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Michael Giehl and Janet Giehl, Husband and Wife v. Terex Utilities and Terex Telelect

February 19, 2013

MICHAEL GIEHL AND JANET GIEHL, HUSBAND AND WIFE,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
TEREX UTILITIES AND TEREX TELELECT, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Caputo United States District Judge

JUDGE CAPUTO

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend Complaint Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c). (Doc. 22.) Plaintiffs seek to amend the Complaint and caption to change "Terex Utilities" to "Terex Utilities, Inc" and "Terex Telelect, Inc." to "Terex South Dakota, Inc." Defendants contend that since the action was timely commenced by way of a Praecipe for Writ of Summons in state court, but the Complaint was not filed until after the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, the proposed amendments are futile because they relate back only to the filing date of the Complaint. I disagree. Because the proposed amendments to the Complaint relate back to the original state court filing, Plaintiffs' motion will be granted.

I. Background

The instant action relates to injuries suffered by Michael Giehl on July 2, 2009 while climbing a tree in an attempt to assist a co-worker. Specifically, while his co-worker was in a bucket truck trimming branches above power lines, the truck's boom arm unexpectedly failed. As a result, the co-worker was stranded above the power lines. Mr. Giehl then donned his climbing gear and proceeded to climb an adjacent tree to assist the co-worker. As he ascended the tree, however, he slipped and fell. Mr. Giehl suffered severe injuries as a result of the fall.

Based on these events, Plaintiffs initiated the present action against Terex Utilities and Terex Telelect, Inc. by filing a Praecipe for Writ of Summons in the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County, Pennsylvania on June 29, 2011. (Doc. 1, Ex. A.) Plaintiffs then filed their Complaint on or about December 16, 2011 seeking to recover damages for injuries caused by Mr. Giehl's fall on July 2, 2009. (Doc. 1, Ex. B.)

Defendants subsequently removed the action to this Court on January 12, 2012. (Doc. 1.) Defendants then moved to dismiss the Complaint. The motion was granted in part and denied in part on April 9, 2012. (Doc. 15.)

On November 15, 2012, Defendants delivered their Rule 26 disclosures to Plaintiffs. (Doc. 22, ¶ 7.) In the disclosures, Defendants indicated that "Terex Utilities" should have been named "Terex Utilities, Inc.," and "Terex Telelect, Inc." should have been identified as "Terex South Dakota, Inc." in the Complaint. (Id.)

Plaintiffs thereafter filed the instant motion to amend the Complaint to correct the misnamed Defendants. Defendants oppose the motion on the basis that the proposed amendments are futile. That is, since neither Pennsylvania nor federal law recognizes a writ of summons as a pleading, the proposed amendments would relate back only to December 16, 2011, the filing date of the Complaint. And, because the filing date of the Complaint was beyond the applicable statute of limitations period, Defendants assert that Plaintiffs are barred from amending the Complaint.

II. Discussion

Plaintiffs' motion to amend is governed by Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 15(c)(1) states:

An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when:

(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;

(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out--or attempted to be ...


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