The Relation Back Doctrine

The relation back doctrine set forth in Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.190(c) provides that an amended pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when it arises “out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading…” The rule allows amendments to relate back even though the statute of limitations has run in the interim. Lopez-Loarca v. Cosme, 76 So. 3d 5 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). The original pleading must give fair notice of the general fact situation out of which the claim or defense arises. Flores v. Riscomp Indus., Inc., 35 So. 3d 146 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010). Two recent district court of appeal opinions discussed the relation back doctrine.

In Kalmanowitz v. Hess, 4D10-4970 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013), the Fourth District Court of Appeal found factual allegations in the original complaint sufficient to give fair notice of the general fact situation out of which a negligent supervision and retention claim arose. Specifically, the original complaint alleged that an employer is responsible for an employee’s fraudulent inducement and that the employer knew or should have known about its agent’s fraudulent scheme. Further, the employer failed to remedy the situation, knowing that investors throughout the state were being defrauded. The amended complaint involved the same conduct set forth in the original. Therefore, the court held that the negligent supervision and retention claims relate back to the date of the original complaint and did not violate the statute of limitations.

Conversely, in Kopel v. Kopel, No.: 3D11-356 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013), the Third District Court of Appeal found no relation back to the original complaint. In order to survive a motion to dismiss after the statute of limitations has passed, an amended complaint must relate back to the original pleading. Here, the fifth amended complaint added a new cause of action that had not been raised until fourteen years after the original pleading. By failing to relate back to the original complaint, the new cause of action in the amended complaint was barred by the statute of limitations. Therefore, the district court reversed and remanded for proceedings consistent with their opinion.

You can read the full opinions here:

(http://www.4dca.org/opinions/April%202013/04-03-13/4D10-4970.op.pdf)

(http://www.3dca.flcourts.org/Opinions/3D11-0536.pdf)