Decision of Washington Supreme Court: 141211 Powers v WB Mobile
December 11, 2014
Under RCW 4.16.1 70, service of process on one defendant tolls the statute of limitations as to unserved defendants. Sidis v. Brodie/Dohrmann, Inc., 11 7 Wn.2d 325, 329, 815 P.2d 781 (1991). In Sidis, the Supreme Court of Washington held “that in some cases, if identified with reasonable particularity, ‘John Doe’ defendants may be appropriately ‘named’ for purposes of RCW 4.16.170.” This case refined that holding and held in this case that the Statute of Limitations is tolled against John Doe.
In order for a plaintiff to show that an unnamed defendant is identified with reasonable particularity, the plaintiff must establish (I) (a) from the commencement of the statute of limitations, the plaintiff made a diligent effort to identify the actual defendant given the information reasonably available to the plaintiff and (b) the plaintiff provided information about the unnamed defendant in the complaint to the greatest extent possible, including describing the unnamed defendant’s acts and appearance and (2) the defendant had or should have received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits at the time when the placeholder for the defendant, such as “John Doe” or “ABC Corporation” is replaced with the defendant’s actual name.
In this case the second prong was satisfied because the named defendant mailed a copy of the complaint to the “John Doe” defendant within 90 days of the filing of the complaint.