WA Supreme Court: Service on One Tolls Others, Even Sometimes John Doe Defendants
In law, we sometimes use placeholders. Say you don’t know the name of a deliveryman, but you know the company he worked for. You would insert what we call a “John Doe” defendant. Now, there is also a statute of limitation. A case has to be filed in a certain amount of time. If you serve and file against one defendant, the statute of limitations is tolled for “a reasonable period” against the other defendants.
So what happens if you don’t know the name of the defendant, have served a defendant you do know, and the statute of limitations has passed.
Well, that depends on how well you named the John Doe defendant. If you have named them with reasonable particularity (i.e. - John Doe’s name is not known, but he is believed to be the delivery driver employed by ACME Company and to have delivered me the defective Anvil) versus not at all, (i.e. - just putting his name in the caption or saying he is another person who may be liable).
If you have named him with reasonable particularity, then he gets treated like all other defendants. Here, the Powers named his John Doe as, "builder of the handicap access ramp where the incident occurred.” This was sufficient.
Issaquah Legal Services is experienced in Personal Injury Claims. Our Issaquah Personal Injury Attorneys have experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants, which helps us anticipate what the other side, and their insurance company, will do with your claim.