Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Nothing to Relate Back to

Sholes v. Lambreth Trucking Co., No. C070770 (D3 Apr. 6, 2017)

Plaintiff is a pro per suing a neighbor over a fire that damaged his property. The Neighbor successfully demurred to a series of complaints, with Plaintiff obtaining leave to amend. As a result, Plaintiff’s complaints alleged a series of ever-evolving legal theories, beginning with a claim based on an insurance dispute but ultimately landing on a trespass theory. But by the time the trespass theory was raised, the statute of limitations had long run. And because the trial court held that it didn’t relate back to the original complaint, the case was dismissed as time-barred.

The Court of Appeal affirms. Problem is that Plaintiff’s timely original complaint was basically devoid of facts.  Owing that defect, the court holds that there was “nothing to which the first amended complaint can be  compared to or to which they can relate back.” The allegations were simply too sparse to put defendant on notice of the nature of the claim that plaintiff later pleaded in subsequent iterations.


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