United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
PAUL OETKEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a defamation suit arising from an alleged sexual assault on a
college campus. Plaintiff, named here as John Doe, is the
accused; Defendant, named here as Jane Doe, is the accuser.
Jane Doe moves to dismiss. For the reasons that follow, the
motion is granted.
case arises from a sexual encounter between John Doe and Jane
Doe on the night of March 19, 2015. (Compl. ¶ 15.) At
the time, both were students at the American Musical and
Dramatic Academy (“AMDA”). John Doe claims the
sex was consensual; Jane Doe claims it was not.
days after the encounter, Jane Doe filed a grievance with the
school, which conducted an investigation. (Compl. ¶ 16.)
John Doe was expelled for a year, though the punishment was
lessened on administrative appeal. (Compl. ¶¶
39-41.) John Doe has not returned to AMDA since. (Compl.
Doe filed this suit on November 16, 2015, naming only AMDA as
a defendant and asserting claims under Title IX of the
Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-88,
and state law. (Dkt. No. 1.) On November 4, 2016, nearly a
year after this suit was filed-and twenty months after the
underlying incident-John Doe amended his complaint to add
Jane Doe as a defendant. (Dkt. No. 49.) The Amended Complaint
asserts three claims against Jane Doe: defamation,
negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Each of those claims is premised on the allegation that Jane
Doe falsely accused John Doe in connection with the March
Doe and AMDA ultimately settled, leaving Jane Doe as the lone
defendant. Jane Doe now moves to dismiss, arguing (1) that
John Doe's claims against her are time-barred and (2)
that the Complaint fails to state a claim.
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a
plaintiff must plead “only enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). A claim is facially plausible when plaintiffs plead
facts that would allow “the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“The Court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual
allegations in the complaint, and ‘draw [ ] all
inferences in the plaintiff's favor.'”
Goonan v. Fed. Reserve Bank of New York, 916
F.Supp.2d 470, 478 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (quoting Allaire Corp.
v. Okumus, 433 F.3d 248, 249-50 (2d Cir. 2006)).
However, “the tenet that a court must accept as true
all of the allegations contained in a complaint is
inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
Doe does not dispute that New York's one-year statute of
limitations for defamation and intentional torts applies to
his claims. See N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 215(3). Nor
does he dispute that Jane Doe was added as a defendant more
than a year after she reported the alleged sexual assault to
campus authorities. John Doe's sole argument as to the
statute of limitations is that his claims should relate back
to the filing of the original complaint.
the plaintiff's burden to establish that an amended claim
relates back to the date of the original complaint. See
S.A.R.L. Galerie Enrico Navarra v. Marlborough Gallery,
Inc., No. 10 Civ. 7547, 2013 WL 1234937, at *3 (S.D.N.Y.
Mar. 26, 2013). “[I]f the applicable statute of
limitations is determined by state law-as is the case
here-courts should assess both the state and federal relation
back doctrines and apply whichever law is more
generous.” Anderson v. City of Mount Vernon,
No. 09 Civ. 7082, 2014 WL 1877092, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 28,
2014). Accordingly, the Court assesses both federal and New
York law to determine whether either allows relation back.
Relation Back Under Federal Law
issue is Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1), which
allows relation back if (1) “the amendment changes the
party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is
asserted”; (2) “the amendment asserts a claim or
defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or
occurrence set out-or attempted to be set out-in the original
pleading”; (3) the new party “received such
notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in
defending on the merits” within the period provided by
Rule 4(m); and (4) the new party “knew or should have
known that the action would have ...