The Supreme Court of Florida has determined that “an amended complaint filed after the statute of limitations has expired, naming a party who had previously been made a third-party defendant as a party defendant, relates back under rule 1.190(c) to the filing of the third-party complaint [where] the third-party complaint [was] filed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations and the plaintiff’s claims in the amended complaint … arise from the same ‘conduct, transaction, or occurrence’ set forth in the third-party complaint.” Caduceus Props., LLC v. Graney, P.E., No. SC12-1474 (Fla., decided February 27, 2014). So ruling, the court resolved an appellate court split on the issue. The matter arose in the context of an alleged malfunctioning heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system installed in an ambulatory surgical center.
Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.190(c) provides that an amendment relates back to the date of the original pleading “[w]hen the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading.” Referring to the state’s judicial policy of “freely permitting amendments to the pleadings so that cases may be resolved on the merits, so long as the amendments do not prejudice or disadvantage the opposing party,” the court found that allowing amendment in the circumstances presented by this case would be consistent with that policy and is consistent with Florida case law establishing that the rule “is to be liberally construed and applied.”