The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN S. MARTIN, JR.
JOHN S. MARTIN, JR., District Judge:
Plaintiffs Marvin Felix, Omar Cornielle and Martin Chaddy
seek leave to file a consolidated amended complaint and to join as additional parties New York Drug Enforcement Task Force ("NYDETF") officers
William O'Flaherty and Miguel Monge. Defendants Richard Chamberlain, Joseph Cruz, Francisco Garrido, Dennis Johnston, William O'Flaherty, and James Wood and proposed defendant Miguel Monge oppose the motion on the grounds that the statute of limitations has run and the amendment does not relate back under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c).
Plaintiffs Felix and Cornielle commenced this § 1983 action pro se3 on April 12 and May 8, 1989, respectively, against certain individual and John Doe defendants and certain municipal defendants.
The plaintiffs alleged that their civil rights had been violated during their arrests on August 16, 1988 on drug-related charges for which they were subsequently convicted, claiming that officers had beaten them to discover the location of the drugs. On April 12, 1991, these two plaintiffs filed an amended consolidated complaint naming one additional NYDETF defendant, and describing "John Doe No. 1" as a "white male who appears to stand over six feet tall and weigh over 200 pounds" and who was "known to plaintiffs as 'O'Hagerty'" and "John Doe No. 2" as "an Hispanic male" who was "known to the plaintiffs as 'Marshall' or 'Marichal.'" Both John Doe defendants were described as "law enforcement officers associated with the NYDETF."
On June 27 and July 12, 1991, the defendants answered plaintiff's first set of interrogatories and produced documents relevant to the arrest. In the answers, defendants failed to identify Monge in response to a question calling for the identities of all the officers involved in the arrest, although they did include O'Flaherty. Defendants produced numerous "Reports of Investigation" ("ROI") and evidence vouchers which mentioned both O'Flaherty and Monge in connection with the operation, but which did not directly state that either had participated in the arrest.
On August 15, 1991, one day before the expiration of the statute of limitations (see infra), plaintiffs Felix and Cornielle sent letters to NYDETF officers identified in the interrogatories who were not parties to the suit, informing each that he or she "may be named as a defendant" in the action, and enclosing a copy of the amended complaint. O'Flaherty was sent one of these letters, but Monge was not.
On August 16, 1991, plaintiff Martin Chaddy filed suit against the City of New York and the same individual defendants named in Felix and Cornielle's suit, with the addition of O'Flaherty. Chaddy also named John Doe NYDETF officers, among them "John Doe No. 2" who was described as an Hispanic "law enforcement officer associated with the NYDETF" who was "known to plaintiffs [sic] as 'Marshall' or 'Marichal.'" Chaddy's complaint substantially mirrored Felix/Cornielle's amended complaint, and it is to be noted that Chaddy and Felix/Cornielle share the same counsel.
Subsequent information has come to light in the course of discovery which plaintiffs claim indicates for the first time that O'Flaherty and Monge participated in the arrest and should be named as defendants.
Accordingly, plaintiffs seek to amend their complaints to name Monge as a defendant, and plaintiffs Felix and Cornielle seek to amend their complaint to name O'Flaherty as a defendant.
Because the statute of limitations, which the parties agree is three years and which commenced on August 16, 1988, has run, the amendment must "relate back" to the dates of the original complaints in order to withstand a statute of limitations defense. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) governs the relation back of amendments, and provides in pertinent part:
The Supreme Court, in Schiavone v. Fortune, 477 U.S. 21, 29, 106 S. Ct. 2379, 2384, 91 L. Ed. 2d 18 (1986), has interpreted Rule 15(c) to have four requirements:
Relation back is dependent upon four factors, all of which must be satisfied: (1) the basic claim must have arisen out of the conduct set forth in the original pleading; (2) the party to be brought in must have received such notice that it will not be prejudiced in maintaining its defense; (3) the party must or should have known that, but for a mistake concerning its identity, the action would have been brought against it; and (4) the second and third requirements must have ...