Where plaintiff named the wrong defendant in a Tennessee premises liability suit, was informed that the named defendant did not own the property three weeks after the complaint was filed, but failed to take any corrective action for more than four months when she filed a “Motion to Correct Misnomer” in response to defendant’s motion for summary judgment, denial of plaintiff’s motion and the granting of summary judgment for defendant was affirmed. In Bodine v. Long John Silver’s LLC, No. M2021-00168-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 14, 2022), plaintiff fell on what she alleged was a dangerous concrete structure in a Long John Silver’s parking lot. The fall occurred on February 25, 2019, and plaintiff filed this suit on February 24, 2020, against “Long John Silver’s, LLC, individually and d/b/a Long John Silver’s.” Three weeks after suit was filed, counsel for defendant emailed plaintiff and stated that JAK Foods, Inc. was the franchisee for this restaurant location, and defendant did not own, operate, or control the restaurant or have any employees there.
Defendant filed an answer in April 2020, then filed a motion for summary judgment on June 11, 2020, asserting that it owed no duty to plaintiff. On July 28, 2020, plaintiff filed a “Motion to Correct Misnomer,” seeking to substitute JAK Foods as defendant. Plaintiff argued that the substitution should relate back to the date of the original filing under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.03, as JAK Foods had “received timely notice of the action and that it should have known that but for the mistake regarding its identity, the action would have been brought against it.” In October 2020, defendant asked that the motions be put on the docket, and after a December hearing, the trial court denied plaintiff’s motion and granted summary judgment to defendant. When plaintiff filed a motion to alter or amend, the trial court specifically noted that it “considered…the extreme lack of due diligence exhibited by the Plaintiff” and that “no additional due diligence was performed by Plaintiff from July 2020 to January 2021.” The trial court accordingly denied the motion to alter or amend, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
In its analysis, the Court of Appeals first pointed out that plaintiff had failed to designate “the grant of summary judgment as an issue for review,” so that issue was waived. The only issue on appeal, then, was whether the trial court correctly denied plaintiff’s “Motion to Correct Misnomer.”