The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that the relation-back doctrine could not be relied upon to substitute the name of a correction officer for “Jane Doe” in the complaint in this 42 USC 1983 action. The correction officer and the city are not “united in interest.” The city cannot be held vicariously liable for its employees’ violation of 42 USC 1983:
In this action alleging a claim of deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment and 42 USC § 1983, plaintiff did not serve the Jane Doe correction officer defendant before the statute of limitations ran. Although the claims against the intended defendant arise out of the same transaction as the claims alleged in the complaint, plaintiff cannot rely on the relation-back doctrine. The correction officer and defendant City are not “united in interest” because “the City cannot be held vicariously liable for its employees’ violations of 42 USC § 1983” … . Nor can plaintiff’s more than two-year delay in seeking to add the new defendant as a party after learning her identity be characterized as a mistake for relation-back purposes … .
Plaintiff’s reliance on CPLR 1024 is unavailing, as he does not demonstrate diligence in seeking to identify the unknown correction officer prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations … . Burbano v New York City, 2019 NY Slip Op 03937, First Dept 5-21-19