Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Court Addresses Proper Substitution of Party's Name for John Doe Designation

In the case of Woelfel v. Universal Linx Serv. Inc., No. 2021-CV-1131 (C.P. Leh. Co. June 3, 2022 Caffrey, J.), the court found that the Plaintiff did not meet the requirements of Pa. R.C.P. 2005(c) relative to her efforts to replace a John Doe designation in her Complaint with the Defendant’s actual name. 

This matter arose out of a motor vehicle accident during which the Plaintiff’s vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by an unknown individual but which vehicle was owned by the Defendant Universal Linx Services, Inc. The Plaintiff had alleged that the driver was an employee of that company.

In an effort to identify the John Doe Defendant, the Plaintiff served Universal Linx with certain discovery requests and Universal identified the driver. 

However, the Plaintiff did not seek leave to amend her Complaint to identify the driver until about six (6) months later. In addition to finding other errors with the Plaintiff’s Motion, the court noted that Pa. R.C.P. 2005(c) requires a party to file a Motion within twenty (20) days of learning the name of a John Doe Defendant within which to request leave to amend the pleading.

Given that the Plaintiff had failed to satisfy the requirements for moving to amend the Complaint to replace the John Doe designation with the name of the individual involved, the court denied the Plaintiff’s Motion.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Here is a LINK to the previous Tort Talk post on the actual "John Doe" Rule of Civil Procedure if you wish to review the same.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 23, 2022).

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