When can a plaintiff in Florida file claims outside the Statute of Limitations?2020-04-23T00:25:20+00:00
When can a plaintiff in Florida file claims outside the Statute of Limitations?

When the plaintiff’s claims arise out of the same transaction or occurrence as a timely filed third-party complaint.

The Florida State Supreme Court recently that a plaintiff can file claims against third-party defendants after the expiration of the Statute of Limitations, provided the third-party plaintiff filed its third-party complaint against the defendant/third-party defendants before the expiration of the Statute of Limitations and the plaintiff’s claims arise out of the same transaction or occurrence as the third-party complaint.  

In Caduceus Prop., LLC, [hotlink] the owner of a building sued its architect due to a malfunctioning HVAC system. The Architect, in turn, sued its sub-consultant and the principal of the sub-consultant who designed the HVAC system. Afterthe Statute of Limitations on the owner’s claims had expired, the owner filed direct claims against the sub-consultant and the individual principal. The trial court denied the sub-consultant’s motion to dismiss based on the Statute of Limitations. At trial, the owner and architect obtained a judgment against the sub-consultant and the sub-consultant appealed, arguing the Statute of Limitations had expired on the owner’s claims.

On appeal, the First District agreed with the sub-consultant that the Owner’s claims was barred by the Statute of Limitations because “[r]elation back should only be permitted where there is a mistake or misnomer in identifying a party defendant, not a mistake in failing to add a party defendant.” Slip Op. at 2 (quoting Graney v. Caduceus Properties, LLC, 91 So. 3d 220, 228 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012). The Florida Supreme Court disagreed and reversed the First District:

Generally, Florida has a judicial policy of freely permitting amendments to the pleadings so that cases may be resolved on the merits, as long as the amendments do not prejudice or disadvantage the opposing party. Permitting the relation back of pleadings under rule 1.190(c) when the claims “arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth” in the third-party complaint is consistent with this judicial policy. Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.190(c). As rule 1.190(a) sets forth, “[l]eave of court [to amend] shall be given freely when justice so requires.” Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.190(a). Further, subsection (e), governing “Amendments Generally,” provides that “[a]t any time in furtherance of justice, upon such terms as may be just, the court may permit” an amended pleading. Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.190(e).

The Court observed that applying the relation-back doctrine under these circumstances further serves the purpose underlying the Statute of Limitations in the first place:

[T]he purpose underlying statutes of limitations — namely, preventing lack of notice and prejudice to the defendant — is not implicated where the plaintiff’s amended complaint relates back to the filing of the third-party complaint, as long as the third party was brought into the suit prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations and the plaintiff’s claims concern the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence at issue in the third-party complaint.

(Slip Op. at 3). Thus, according to the Court,

in determining whether a time-barred amendment to a pleading that names a third-party defendant as a party defendant relates back to the date of the third-party complaint, the key inquiry is whether the third-party complaint put the third-party defendant on notice of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence from which the plaintiff’s claims against that defendant arose. If so, then the statute of limitations should not bar such claims. Therefore, in a case in which the third-party complaint puts the third-party defendant on notice of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence from which the plaintiff’s claims arose, and the third-party defendant is already a party to the lawsuit when the plaintiff seeks to name the third-party defendant as a party defendant, the plaintiff’s amended complaint naming the third-party defendant as a party defendant should relate back to the timely filed third-party complaint.



Ball Janik LLP was founded in 1982 with six lawyers and a four-person support staff in Portland, Oregon. Since our firm’s inception, we have expanded our capabilities, our professionals, and geographic footprint. What started as a firm focused in real property and land use (known then as Ball Janik & Novack), has grown to include the insights of a team of 30-plus attorneys, with a combined six centuries of experience, and capabilities including Real Estate and Land Use, Construction Defect, Commercial Litigation, Insurance Recovery, Construction and Design, Employment, Finance and Corporate, Public Agencies and Schools, and Community Associations. With offices in Florida and Oregon, our regional growth has earned us a national reputation for upholding the rights of our clients.

Ball Janik LLP has been recognized by Chambers USA, U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®, The Best Lawyers in America©, and Corporate International. Ball Janik LLP’s success and integrity have repeatedly made it one of “Oregon’s Most Admired Professional Firms,” according to the Portland Business Journal’s survey results of CEOs throughout the region.

Heather J. Oden
Oregon , Portland
No Blog Tiles found.