Jones v. City of Montgomery et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying 34 Motion to Dismiss, as further set out. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 3/16/12. (scn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CITY OF MONTGOMERY, et al.,
CASE NO. 2:10-CV-940-WKW
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Xabier Jones brings this action against Defendant City of Montgomery
for racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981, et seq. Before the court is the City’s Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 34.) For the
reasons that follow, this motion is due to be denied.
Mr. Jones filed his complaint on November 3, 2010. He named Chief Jordan
of the Montgomery Fire Department and the City. Twelve days later, he amended his
complaint, naming the Chief and the Fire Department instead of the City. However,
service was not effectuated until April 18, 2011. Both the original and amended
complaints were served on Defendants. Then, Mr. Jones tried to amend his complaint
again to name the City (again) after it became clear he could not name the Fire
Department since that entity cannot be sued. (See Order, Doc. # 24.) The motion to
dismiss argues that the Title VII claims in the Second Amended Complaint could not
relate back to the First Amended Complaint, since the City was not noticed in that
complaint about the Title VII claims within the ninety days after receipt of the right
to sue letter. However, the motion to dismiss misstates the requirements for relation
back under the present version of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c), and relies on
outdated law. See Schiavone v. Fortune, 477 U.S. 21 (1986), superseded by rule, Fed.
R. Civ. P. 15(c)(3), as recognized by Hill v. U.S. Postal Serv., 961 F.2d 153 (11th Cir.
Under the revised Rule 15, a plaintiff is allowed to assert a claim that relates
back to the original complaint and change the name of the party, if: (1) the amendment
asserts a claim in the original pleading; (2) it was done within the time period allowed
in Rule 4(m); (3) the party to be brought in by the amendment received such notice
that it will not be prejudiced by defending on the merits; and (4) that party knew or
should have known that the action would have been brought against it, but for a
mistake concerning the proper entity. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c).
All these requirements are met by the Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. #
31). The complaint reasserts the Title VII claims and claims against Chief Jordan. It
was within the period of time allowed in Rule 4(m) as a result of the extension granted
in a previous order. (Doc. # 9.) Rule 15 requires relation back to the original
complaint, not any subsequent amended complaints, which would relate back to the
First Amended Complaint that properly named the City and was filed within the
ninety day window for Title VII claims.
The third and fourth factors of Rule 15 are also met. The Fire Department and
the City both have the same attorney, who received notice of this suit, and received
the original Complaint along with the First Amended Complaint. Counsel was aware
of the mistake, and even filed a motion to dismiss as a result. (See Doc. # 19.)
Therefore, there is no prejudice to the City. Because the Second Amended Complaint
meets the requirements of Rule 15(c), it can successfully relate back and the motion
to dismiss is due to be denied.
Therefore, it is ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 34) is DENIED.
DONE this 16th day of March, 2012.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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