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Korsak v. Honey Dew Associates, Inc.

Superior Court of Rhode Island

September 15, 2015

MELISSA B. KORSAK, Plaintiff,
v.
HONEY DEW ASSOCIATES, INC., and BOWEN INVESTMENT, INC. Defendants.

Providence County Superior Court PC 13-0105

For Plaintiff: Chip Muller, Esq.; Nancy Sheinberg, Esq.

For Defendant: Michael D. Chittick, Esq.; Julie A. Sacks, Esq.

DECISION

TAFT-CARTER, J.

Before the Court for decision is Plaintiff's motion pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P. 15 (Rule 15) for leave to file a second amended complaint to add Defendant, R.B. Donuts, Inc. (R.B. Donuts). Defendants object to the motion. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 8-2-14. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Plaintiff's motion.

I

Facts and Travel

The basic facts of this matter were previously recounted by this Court in its Decision of September 15, 2015 regarding Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court will relate only the facts necessary to decide the instant motion.

This law suit was initially brought against Honey Dew Associates, Inc. (HDA) and Bowen Investment, Inc. (BII) for the alleged sexual harassment of the Plaintiff while she worked at a HDA franchise. During the deposition of Robert Bowen-the co-owner of BII, and sole owner of R.B. Donuts-the existence of R.B. Donuts was first disclosed to the Plaintiff. Robert Bowen stated that R.B. Donuts is the management company for BII which manages, on a "day-to-day" basis, the franchises owned by BII. Robert Bowen Dep. 8:22-23, Apr. 15, 2015. As to the independently owned franchises, such as the Centerdale store, R.B. Donuts provides "support[.]" Id. at 9:23-24. Such support involves "conduct[ing] two full inspections every year to make sure the standards are being maintained, and also [conducting] visitations on a monthly basis." Id. at 10:4-6. Additionally, R.B. Donuts helps the independent franchisees with vendors, electricians, and contractors. Id. at 10:1-3. R.B. Donuts, on behalf of BII, hired Mr. Frigault, the man accused of sexually harassing Plaintiff, to perform "secret shopper" operations at all of the HDA stores in Rhode Island, including the Centerdale store. Robert Bowen Dep. 61:9-10; 65:10-17; 108:23-25. Furthermore, R.B. Donuts, on behalf of BII, hired Mr. Frigault to perform "mini visitations, "[1] "tape reviews, "[2] and "deal with security equipment"[3] at company owned stores.

II

Standard of Review

Rule 15(c) allows for an amended pleading to relate back to the date of the original pleading when the claim or defense arose out of the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence, provided that:

"the party to be brought in by amendment (1) has received such notice of the institution of the action that the party would not be prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits; and (2) knew or should have known that but for a mistake by or against the plaintiff or defendant to be added the action would have been brought." [4]

"As a preliminary matter, the second condition above inquires whether the party to be brought in by amendment, in this case [R.B. Donuts], knew or should have known that, but for [P]laintiff['s] mistake concerning the identity of the proper party, the action would have been brought against [R.B. Donuts]." DeSantis v. Prelle, 891 A.2d 873, 880 (R.I. 2006); see Krupski v. Costa Crociere S. p. A., 560 U.S. 538, 548 (2010) ("The question under Rule 15(c)(1)(C)(ii) is not whether [the plaintiff] knew or should have known [the] identity [of the new party] as the proper ...


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