United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
John Miller originally brought this lawsuit against Defendant
Panther II Transportation, Inc.
(“Panther”), alleging that he was
injured when Panther's employee pulled away from a
loading dock while he was using a forklift in the back of the
box truck. After the statute of limitations had run, Mr.
Miller sought leave to amend his Complaint to allege claims
against William Hall, who allegedly drove the box truck, and
Expediter Services, LLC (“Expediter”),
which may have employed Mr. Hall. Panther opposed the Motion
to Amend, arguing that the proposed amended complaint would
not relate back to the filing of the original Complaint. The
Court granted Mr. Miller's Motion to Amend, noting the
odd posture of Panther attempting to raise Expediter's
affirmative defense and the paucity of the record. The
dispositive issue for relation back, the Court held, was not
what the plaintiff knew at the time the statute of
limitations ran, but whether the newly-joined party
“knew or should have known that the action would have
been brought against it, but for a mistake concerning the
proper party's identity.” [Filing No. 34 at
Expediter, one of the newly-joined parties, has filed a
Motion to Dismiss, arguing that it had no reason to believe
it would have been sued but for a mistake and that Mr.
Miller's suit is therefore time-barred. [Filing No.
61.] Expediter's Motion should have been styled a
motion for summary judgment under Rule 56. But Mr. Miller
recognized this fact and took the opportunity to submit
evidence in response. Cf.Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d)
(“All parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to
present all the material that is pertinent to the
motion.”). The undisputed evidence provides no basis
for relation back, rendering Mr. Miller's claim against
Expediter untimely under the applicable statute of
limitations. The Court, construing Expediter's Motion as
a motion for summary judgment, GRANTS the
Motion for the reasons described below.
alluded to above, a threshold issue in assessing
Expediter's Motion is determining the applicable legal
standard. Expediter has filed its Motion to Dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6), which provides a mechanism for challenging the
legal sufficiency of a complaint, arguing that Mr.
Miller's Complaint is barred by the applicable statute of
limitations. “Dismissing a complaint as untimely at the
pleading stage is an unusual step, since a complaint need not
anticipate and overcome affirmative defenses, ” except
in the rare situation where the plaintiff “alleges
facts sufficient to establish a statute of limitations
defense.” Sidney Hillman Health Ctr. of Rochester
v. Abbott Labs., Inc., 782 F.3d 922, 928 (7th Cir.
2015). This would be such a situation given that the dates
set forth in the Amended Complaint establish its
untimeliness, except that Mr. Miller has raised the
relation-back doctrine to resist the application of the
statute of limitations. Expediter anticipated this (which is
unsurprising, given the procedural history of this matter),
and therefore submitted a declaration from its president in
support of its Motion. Expediter's decision to present
“matters outside the pleadings” means that it
should have filed its motion as a motion for summary judgment
under Rule 56, consistent with the ordinary procedure for
resolving affirmative defenses. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d);
Sidney Hillman, 782 F.3d at 928.
result is that the Court must either exclude Expediter's
evidence or treat the motion “as one for summary
judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Mr. Miller
likewise recognized that resolving Expediter's Motion
required consideration of outside evidence, having submitted
numerous exhibits in opposition. He also affirmatively
asserts that the Court “should construe the Motion
under [Rule 56] as a Motion for Summary Judgment.”
[Filing No. 76 at 9.] Based upon this affirmative
assertion and recognition that Expediter's Motion should
be resolved under the parameters of Rule 56, cf. Sansone
v. Brennan, 2019 WL 1062288 (7th Cir. 2019) (publication
pending) (“Waiver is intentionally abandoning a known
right.”), the Court concludes that all parties have
received “a reasonable opportunity to present all the
material that is pertinent to the motion, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Accordingly, the Court treats
Expediter's Motion as a motion for summary judgment. As
noted, Mr. Miller anticipated the treatment of
Expediter's Motion as one for summary judgment, and he
responded accordingly, also submitting matters outside the
record. He has therefore had a full opportunity to be heard,
and Expediter's motion is ripe for consideration.
motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a
trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and, instead, that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. SeeFed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear,
whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or
genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact
by citing to particular parts of the record, including
depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that
the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence
of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce
admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on
personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in
evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify
on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly
support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual
assertion can result in the movant's fact being
considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of
summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only
consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A
disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor
Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words,
while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary
judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome
determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d
521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant
to the legal question will not suffice to defeat summary
judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986).
summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence
it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its
version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus.,
325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is
entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable factfinder
could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson
v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court
views the record in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp.,
512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence
or make credibility determinations on summary judgment
because those tasks are left to the fact-finder.
O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625,
630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited
materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit
Court of Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district
courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the
record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the
summary judgment motion before them, ”
Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the
existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against
the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614
F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).
following factual background is set forth pursuant to the
standards detailed above. The facts stated are not
necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment
standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed
evidence are presented in the light most favorable to
“the party against whom the motion under consideration
is made.” Premcor USA, Inc. v. American Home
Assurance Co., 400 F.3d 523, 526-27 (7th Cir. 2005).
Court summarized in its Order dated July 6, 2018 granting Mr.