Loeffler v. Anoka, City of et al
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS 156 . IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 1. Defendant Rebecca Kopp's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), 156 is GRANTED. 2. This matter is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY. (Written Opinion). Signed by Judge Michael J. Davis on 1/12/17. (GRR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Jeannie Marie Loeffler,
City of Anoka, et al.,
Civil No. 13-cv-2060 (MJD/TNL)
Jonathan A. Strauss, Sapientia Law Group, PLLC, 120 South Sixth Street, Suite
100, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for Plaintiff);
Nathan N. LaCoursiere, Duluth City Attorney’s Office, 410 City Hall, 411 West
First Street, Duluth, MN 55802 (for Defendant Rebecca Kopp).
The above-entitled matter came before the Court upon the Report and
Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung dated
October 25, 2016. Plaintiff has objected to the Magistrate Judge’s
recommendation that Defendant Rebecca Kopp’s motion to dismiss be granted.
Pursuant to statute, the Court has conducted a de novo review of the
record. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Local Rule 72.2(b). Based on the Court’s de novo
review the Court will adopt the Report and Recommendation.
Plaintiff has cited no controlling authority to support her position that
waiting to name Rebecca Kopp as a defendant due to inadequate knowledge is a
“mistake” as contemplated in Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(1)(C)(ii) (allowing an
amendment to relate back if the defendant “knew or should have known that the
action would have been brought against it, but for a mistake concerning the
proper party’s identity). The decision of the United States Supreme Court in
Krupski v. Costa Crociere S.P.A. addresses “mistake” as used in Rule 15 (c) as
“[a]n error, misconception, or misunderstanding; an erroneous belief.” 560 U.S.
538, 548 (2010). Here, Plaintiff chose to sue an “unnamed Duluth officer” not
because of an error, misconception or misunderstanding. She did so because at
the time she filed suit, she did not have confirmation that Rebecca Kopp was the
Duluth officer that accessed her private data.
The Eighth Circuit has recognized that an amended complaint identifying
a defendant by name “ordinarily will not be treated as relating back to the prior
pleading, unless certain conditions set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c) are satisfied.”
Foulk v. Charrier, 262 F.3d 687, 696 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing Barrow v. Wethersfield,
66 F.3d 466, 467 (2d Cir. 1995) in which the court found that John Doe pleadings
cannot be used to circumvent statutes of limitations)). And as the Magistrate
Judge noted, many recent decisions from this District have held that when a
plaintiff substitutes a Doe defendant for a named defendant, the amendment
does not relate back under Rule 15(c)(1)(C)(ii). (Report and Recommendation at
This Court also agrees with the conclusion of the Magistrate Judge that
equitable tolling of the statute of limitations is not warranted in this case. The
doctrine of equitable tolling “permits a plaintiff to sue after the statutory time
period has expired if [s]he has been prevented from doing so due to inequitable
circumstances.” Firstcom, Inc. v. Qwest Corp., 555 F.3d 669, 675 (8th Cir. 2009).
“But equitable tolling offers ‘an exceedingly narrow window of relief’ and courts
‘rarely invoke doctrines such as equitable tolling to alleviate a plaintiff from a
loss of his right to assert a claim.’” Kost v. Hunt, 983 F. Supp. 2d 1121, 1130 (D.
Minn. 2013) (citing Firstcom, 555 F.3d at 675).
This matter was filed on July 30, 2013, and the statute of limitations ran on
Plaintiff’s claims against Rebecca Kopp on September 19, 21 and 30, 2013 and
June 1, 2014 – four years from the dates she accessed Plaintiff’s driver’s license
information. Shortly after commencing this action, numerous motions to dismiss
were filed by the named defendants, including a motion by the City of Duluth,
Since the Report and Recommendation was issued, two additional decisions were filed in this
District holding that motions substituting a Doe defendant for a named defendant do not relate
back. See Karasov v. Caplan Law Firm et al., No. 14-cv-1503, 2016 WL 6836930 (D. Minn. Nov.
18, 2016); Rollins v. City of Albert Lea et al., 14-cv-299, 2016 WL 6818940 (D. Minn. Nov. 17,
2016). In addition, the
Rebecca Kopp’s employer. By Order dated September 9, 2014, the City of
Duluth’s motion was granted, yet Plaintiff did not file a motion for discovery
relative to whether Rebecca Kopp accessed her driver’s license data until
November 6, 2015. Once the motion for discovery was granted, Plaintiff did not
file a motion to amend her complaint until two months later. Under these
circumstances, the Court finds that Plaintiff was not diligent in pursuing her
rights with respect to asserting a claim against Rebecca Kopp. In addition,
Plaintiff points to no evidence by which to conclude that the City of Duluth or
Rebecca Kopp engaged in inequitable conduct that prevented Plaintiff from filing
a timely claim against Kopp. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s claims
against Kopp are time-barred.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Defendant Rebecca Kopp’s Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(b)(6), (ECF No. 156) is GRANTED.
2. This matter is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Date: January 12, 2017
s/ Michael J. Davis
Michael J. Davis
United States District Court
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