the lack of any genuine issue of fact, the Court must view the available facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Minihan v. American Pharmaceutical Ass'n, 259 U.S. App. D.C. 10, 812 F.2d 726, 727 (D.C.Cir. 1987).
The Court finds that summary judgment is unwarranted because the first amended complaint relates back to the original complaint such that the statute of limitation will not bar this action. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) governs relation back of amendments. In Schiavone v. Fortune, 477 U.S. 21, 106 S. Ct. 2379, 91 L. Ed. 2d 18 (1986), the Supreme Court held that relation back to the date of the original pleading of an amendment adding a party is dependent on four factors: (1) the basic claim must have arisen out of the conduct set forth in the original pleading; (2) the party to be brought in must have received such notice of the institution of the action that it will not be prejudiced in maintaining its defense; (3) that party must or should have known that, but for a mistake concerning identity, the action would have been brought against it; and (4) the second and third requirements must have been fulfilled within the prescribed limitations period. Schiavone, 106 S. Ct. at 2384.
The Court finds that these conditions are satisfied here. The same occurrence -- the slip and fall accident -- is involved. Plaintiffs have also established that Citizens received the notice that is required by Rule 15(c). That rule states that the newly named party must have "received such notice of the institution of the action that he will not be prejudiced." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1). The required notice under Rule 15(c) may be formal or informal. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c) advisory committee's note. Plaintiffs contend that Citizens had notice of the accident as early as 1987, well within the limitations period. They assert that they informed Citizens of the September 10, 1986 incident and discussed plaintiffs' claims. To support this claim, plaintiffs rely on the correspondence from Citizens to counsel for plaintiffs which identifies defendant Virginia Cable as the subcontractor. The notice described by plaintiffs consists of notice of the incident and a possible lawsuit. Citizens does not deny prior knowledge of the possible pendency of the action and has made no claims of prejudice in having to defend this action. Under these circumstances, the Court finds the notice to be satisfactory under Rule 15(c).
Finally, plaintiffs argue that the reason Citizens was not named as a defendant in the original complaint was due to Citizens' misconduct in not identifying itself at any time as the subcontractor. Although it is not so apparent that such is the case, this Court must accept plaintiffs' counsel's claims as true because Citizens has offered no evidence to the contrary. Given that, naming defendant Virginia Cable as a defendant was reasonable in light of the fact that plaintiffs' counsel was apparently misled by Citizens when he inquired about the contractor on the job. Moreover, it is well recognized that if a party sought to be added to a complaint misleads a plaintiff as its identity, the new defendant will be estopped from asserting a statute of limitations defense. 6A C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1500 (1990).
The Court therefore concludes that the amended complaint naming Citizens as a defendant relates back, for the purpose of the statute of limitations, to the date that the original complaint was filed. Accordingly, defendant Citizens's motion for summary judgment should be denied.
In view of the foregoing, it is hereby
ORDERED that defendant Citizens' motion for summary judgment is denied.
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