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Ramirez v. SMG, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 27, 2018

VICTOR RAMIREZ, Plaintiff,
v.
SMG, LLC, JAMES HICE Executive Chef, CHRISTOPHER CARDENAS Banquet Coordinator, CARLOS MARTINEZ Sous Chef, GREG YOUNG, JORDAN RIVERA, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARTHA VÁZQUEZ, United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 9] filed by SMG. The Court, having considered the motion, briefs, and relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed, finds that the Motion is well-taken and will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         In October of 2012, Plaintiff Victor Ramirez filed a Charge of Discrimination against his employer, SMG. Doc. 12 at 1. On April 23, 2013, he filed an Amended Charge of Discrimination. Id. at 2. On August 4, 2015, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a right to sue letter. Id. At that point, Plaintiff had 90 days within which to file an action in court on his discrimination claims. Id.

         Within the 90-day statutory period, on November 3, 2015, Plaintiff commenced an action in the Second Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico, Bernalillo County, alleging that he was subject to discrimination in violation of federal and state laws by his employer and individuals who worked for that employer. Doc. 1-1. Although Plaintiff's employer is SMG, the Complaint names “SMG, LLC, ” an entirely unrelated entity, as Defendant.

         After filing the Complaint, “Plaintiff's attorney lost contact with the Plaintiff and no attempt to serve the Complaint on the Defendants was made until contact was reestablished in August 2016.” Id. After determining that Plaintiff did, in fact, wish to continue with his action, on August 18, 2016 - nine months after the action was commenced - Plaintiff's attorney mailed a copy of the Complaint to SMG “for the purposes of effecting service.” Id. at 2, Doc. 1-2. SMG received the Complaint on August 23, 3016. Doc. 1 at ¶ 3. Plaintiff never served any of the individual Defendants. Doc. 12 at 2.

         On September 14, 2016, SMG removed the action to this Court. Doc. 1. SMG then filed the instant motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims in their entirety. Doc. 9. On October 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed a response in which he agreed that his federal claims against the individual Defendants should be dismissed, but argued that his state claims against the individual Defendants and all of his claims against SMG remain viable. Doc. 12. On March 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal under Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, dismissing all of his claims against the individual Defendants. Doc. 20. It thus remains for this Court to determine the merits of SMG's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against SMG.

         DISCUSSION

         SMG argues that because the Complaint fails to name it as a party to this lawsuit, the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted against SMG. SMG further argues that the Complaint must be dismissed on this basis, because the 90-day limitations period for Plaintiff to file an action ran in November 2015, and thus amendment of his Complaint would be futile. Plaintiff acknowledges that he did not properly name SMG as Defendant, and that the statute of limitations bars him from commencing an action on his discrimination claims. He contends, however, that his failure to name the proper party is a “minor discrepancy, ” that SMG had notice of this action and thus is not prejudiced by the discrepancy, and that under Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, he should be permitted to file an amended complaint, properly naming SMG as Defendant, and have that amended complaint “relate back” to November 3, 2015, the date on which the original Complaint was filed.

         The Court need not opine as to the severity of Plaintiff's mistake concerning SMG's identity or the prejudice caused to SMG as a result thereof, as the plain language of Rule 15(c) dictates the outcome of SMG's motion. Specifically, Rule 15(c) provides:

         (c) Relation Back of Amendments.

(1) When an Amendment Relates Back. An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when:
(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;
(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out--or attempted to be set out--in ...

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