United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
December 18, 2014, Plaintiff Marilyn Thompson tripped over
boxes in a store owned by Defendant Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.
(“Dollar Tree”), allegedly causing her severe and
permanent injuries. On October 12,  2017, she filed a complaint
against Dollar Tree in the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County, and Dollar Tree removed the case to this
Court on December 18, 2017. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff filed an
Amended Complaint on February 15, 2018, adding Defendant
American Greetings Corporations (“American
Greetings”). Am. Compl., ECF No. 17.
the Court is American Greetings' Motion to Dismiss, or in
the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. Def.'s Mot., ECF
No. 31. Because the claim against American
Greetings does not relate back to the original complaint
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c), I will grant
American Greetings' Motion, treated as a Motion to
filed suit against Dollar Tree on October 12, 2017, claiming
that, on December 18, 2014, she tripped over boxes that
“Defendant failed to remove from the floor of the
aisle” in its Largo, Maryland store. Compl.
¶¶ 6-7, 9. Dollar Tree removed the case to this
Court on December 18, 2017. ECF No. 1. During a Fed.R.Civ.P.
16 conference call on January 22, 2018, Thompson sought leave
to amend her pleading to add American Greetings as a
defendant, and I permitted her to do so. ECF No. 16. She
filed her Amended Complaint on February 15, 2018, naming both
Dollar Tree and American Greetings as Defendants and alleging
that on December 18, 2014 “one of the shopping aisles
at [Dollar Tree's Largo, Maryland store] had boxes that
Defendant Dollar Tree and/or Defendant American Greetings
failed to remove from the floor of the aisle, creating a
tripping hazard” that caused her to trip and fall. Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 7-8, 10. She served American Greetings on
March 22, 2018. ECF No. 22.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for “the
dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Velencia v.
Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md.
Dec. 13, 2012). This rule's purpose “is to test the
sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.” Id. (quoting
Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480,
483 (4th Cir. 2006)). To that end, the Court bears in mind
the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), when considering a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, a complaint
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state “a plausible claim
for relief, ” as “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice, ” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678-79. See Velencia, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4
(discussing standard from Iqbal and
Twombly). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 663.
reviewing a motion to dismiss, “[t]he court may
consider documents attached to the complaint, as well as
documents attached to the motion to dismiss, if they are
integral to the complaint and their authenticity is not
disputed.” Sposato v. First Mariner Bank, No.
CCB-12- 1569, 2013 WL 1308582, at *2 (D. Md. Mar. 28, 2013);
see also CACI Int'l v. St. Paul Fire & Marine
Ins. Co., 566 F.3d 150, 154 (4th Cir. 2009). However, if
the Court considers matters outside the pleadings, the Court
must treat the motion as a motion for summary judgment.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Syncrude Canada Ltd. v. Highland
Consulting Grp., Inc., No. RDB-12-318, 2013 WL 139194,
at *2 (D. Md. Jan. 10, 2013). Because American Greetings'
Motion can be resolved on the pleadings alone, I will treat
it as a Motion to Dismiss.
undisputed that Thompson's cause of action accrued on
December 18, 2014, the date of the alleged injury. The
parties agree that she had until December 18, 2017 to file
suit against any defendant. Def.'s Mem. 2
(“Maryland's three-year statute of limitations for
Plaintiff's claims ran on December 18, 2017.”);
Pl.'s Opp'n 5 (“Maryland law on a statute of
limitations issue applies in a diversity action.”);
see also Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §
5-101 (three-year statute of limitations for a negligence
action). Plaintiff filed a timely lawsuit against Dollar Tree
on October 12, 2017, and Dollar Tree removed the case to this
Court on December 18, 2017. Thompson then filed her Amended
Complaint, adding Defendant American Greetings, on February
15, 2018, almost two months after the statute of limitations
had expired. Am. Compl. 1. Of course, under both federal and
Maryland law, if an amendment “relates back to the date
of the original pleading, ” then it also is timely.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c); see Nam v. Montgomery Cty., 732
A.2d 356, 364 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1999) (“Maryland
recognizes the doctrine of ‘relating
back.'”). Therefore, the issue before the Court is
whether the claim against American Greetings “relates
back” to the date of the initial Complaint.
the parties dispute whether federal or Maryland law applies.
American Greetings analyzes the issue under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 15(c). Def.'s Mem. 4. Thompson argues
that Maryland law applies, stating that “[f]ederal law
‘governs the relation back of amendments and
controls' only in the fact [sic] of conflicting and
less generous state law.” Pl.'s Opp'n
5 (quoting Federal Leasing Co. v. Amperif, 840
F.Supp. 1068, 1071 (D. Md. 1993)). In Thompson's view,
Maryland law is more generous, as “a plaintiff need
only show that ‘ . . . the operative factual
situation remains essentially the same . . . .'”
Id. (quoting Gardner v. State, 549 A.2d
1171, 1178 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1988) (emphasis removed)). It
is true that, under Maryland law, “[t]he doctrine of
relation back provides that if the factual situation remains
essentially the same after the amendment as it was before it,
the doctrine of relation back applies and the amended cause
of action is not barred by limitations.” Nam,
732 A.2d at 364. Thus, “if an amendment merely corrects
the name of an original party, as opposed to adding a new
party, the doctrine is applicable.” Id. But,
under Maryland law, “if a new defendant is added, the
doctrine of relation back does not apply.” Id.
law is less generous than Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c). See Youmans
v. Douron, Inc., 65 A.3d 185, 194-95 (Md. Ct. Spec. App.
2013) (“The Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure, unlike
the Federal Rules, lack an express provision governing the
relation back of amendments to prior pleadings. But Maryland
courts do, nonetheless, recognize and apply such a precept,
though it is narrower in scope than its federal
counterpart.”) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). Indeed, in Federal Leasing Co., which
Thompson cites, this Court applied federal procedural law,
not Maryland procedural law, for that very reason. 840
F.Supp. at 1071-72 & n.5. Thus, the federal rule applies.
particular, Rule 15(c)(1)(C) applies because the amendment
introduces a new party. SeeKrupski v. Costa
Crociere S. p. A., 560 U.S. 538, 544-46 (2010) (applying
Rule 15(c)(1)(C) where plaintiff “moved to amend her
complaint to add Costa Crociere as a defendant,
” not change the defendant from ...