John Doe–CPLR 1024

CPLR 1024: Unknown parties

A party who is ignorant, in whole or in part, of the name or identity of a person who may properly be made a party, may proceed against such person as an unknown party by designating so much of his name and identity as is known. If the name or remainder of the name becomes known all subsequent proceedings shall be taken under the true name and all prior proceedings shall be deemed amended accordingly.

Markov v Stack's LLC (Delaware), 2018 NY Slip Op 03238 [1st Dept. 2018]

The motion court properly dismissed the complaint on the ground that it was served after the statutory limitations period had expired. Plaintiff's claims arose on January 14, 2008. The original complaint in this action, which was filed on January 6, 2014 (just days before the six-year statute of limitations expired), did not name Stack's LLC as a defendant, nor did it name defendant Stack's LLC (Delaware). The amended complaint, which for the first time named Stack's LLC (Delaware) as a defendant, was not filed until January 24, 2014 — more than a week after the statute had run. Plaintiff cannot properly rely on CPLR 1024 as a shield from the statute of limitations. Even assuming that the appellation "John Doe" referred to a corporation rather than a natural person, the complaint's description of the John Doe defendant was not described in such a way as to fairly apprise Stack's LLC (Delaware) that it was an intended defendant (see Bumpus v New York City Tr. Auth., 66 AD3d 26, 29—30 [2d Dept 2009]; see Tucker v Lorieo, 291 AD2d 261, 262 [1st Dept 2002]). Thus, the inadequate description rendered the action jurisdictionally defective (Thas v Dayrich Trading, Inc., 78 AD3d 1163, 1165 [2d Dept 2010]).

Stuff I meant to post but didn’t feel like it at the time.


Bonik v Tarrabocchia2010 NY Slip Op 07878 (App. Div., 2nd 2010)

The plaintiff failed to rebut the defendant's sworn statement that he never received a copy of the order entered July 1, 2004, which, inter alia, scheduled a conference for September 29, 2004. The assertion of the plaintiff's attorney that she personally served that order upon the then- pro se defendant was not supported by a proper affidavit of service or other proof of service (see Lambert v Schreiber, 69 AD3d 904). A written statement prepared by the plaintiff's attorney on August 4, 2004, was neither sworn to before a notary public nor subscribed and affirmed to be true under the penalties of perjury and, thus, did not constitute competent evidence of service (see CPLR 2106; Moore v Tappen, 242 AD2d 526). Without notice of the conference, the defendant's "default" was a nullity, as was the remedy imposed by the Supreme Court as a consequence (see CPLR 5015[a][4]; Pelaez v Westchester Med. Ctr., 15 AD3d 375, 376; Tragni v Tragni, 21 AD3d 1084, 1085; cf. Hwang v Tam, 72 AD3d 741, 742). In this situation, vacatur of the default is required as a matter of law and due process, and no showing of a potentially meritorious defense is required (see Pelaez v Westchester Med. Ctr., 15 AD3d at 376; Kumer v Passafiume, 258 AD2d 625, 626). Consequently, the subsequent inquest, the judgment entered March 21, 2006, and the order dated July 16, 2007, were all nullities, and must be vacated. In addition, there was no competent proof that the plaintiff served the defendant with notice of the inquest, a copy of the judgment entered March 22, 2006, with notice of entry, or a copy of the order entered July 20, 2007, with notice of entry.

Rizzo v Kay2010 NY Slip Op 09493 (App. Div., 2nd 2010)

Furthermore, under the circumstances of this case, it was not error for the trial court to allow testimony on the issue of whether the appellant abandoned treatment of the plaintiff before fully completing her dental work, and, in effect, to conform the pleadings to the proof adduced at trial by submitting a claim of abandonment to the jury. "A trial court generally has broad discretion to deem the pleadings amended to conform to the evidence presented at the [trial], even absent a motion by a party, provided [that] there is no significant prejudice or surprise to the party opposing the amendment" (Matter of Allstate Ins. Co. v Joseph, 35 AD3d 730, 731; see CPLR 3025[c]A-1 Check Cashing Serv. v Goodman, 148 AD2d 482). Here, the appellant was not prejudiced or surprised by the admission of evidence on the issue of abandonment and the submission of this issue to the jury, since the issue was explored, and relevant evidence obtained, during discovery (see Alomia v New York City Tr. Auth., 292 AD2d 403, 406; Diaz v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 289 AD2d 365, 366).

It was also proper for the trial court to dismiss the appellant's cross claim against the defendant Joseph Maniscalco. The plaintiff failed to present any expert evidence that Dr. Maniscalco departed from good and accepted standards of dental practice, and therefore agreed to withdraw her dental malpractice claim against Dr. Maniscalco at the close of her case. While the appellant opposed Dr. Maniscalco's motion to dismiss the cross claim against him upon the ground that there was a factual dispute as to whether Dr. Maniscalco was an independent contractor who could be held liable for his own acts of malpractice, the appellant's expert witness disclosure statement failed to identify any departures from good and accepted standards of dental practice which Dr. Maniscalco may have committed. Under these circumstances, the trial court providently exercised its discretion in ruling that the appellant would be precluded from offering expert testimony as to whether Dr. Maniscalco committed any acts of dental malpractice (see CPLR 3101[d][1][i]; Lucian v Schwartz, 55 AD3d 687, 688; Parlante v Cavallero, 73 AD3d 1001Schwartzberg v Kingsbridge Hgts. Care Ctr., Inc., 28 AD3d 463, 464), and in concluding that absent such expert testimony, the appellant could not establish a prima facie case of dental malpractice against Dr. Maniscalco, and therefore could not prevail upon his cross claim (see Perricone-Bernovich v Gentle Dental, 60 AD3d 744, 745; Sohn v Sand, 180 AD2d 789, 790.

Comice v Justin's Rest., 2010 NY Slip Op 07884 (App. Div., 2nd 2010)

The Supreme Court properly denied that branch of the plaintiff's motion which was pursuant to CPLR 1003 for leave to amend the summons and complaint to add Andre Suite as a defendant. The statute of limitations expired and the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the relation-back doctrine was applicable (see CPLR 203[f]Buran v Coupal, 87 NY2d 173). In order for claims asserted against a new defendant to relate back to the date the claims were filed against an original defendant, the plaintiff must establish, inter alia, that the new party knew or should have known that, but for a mistake by the plaintiff as to the identity of the proper parties, the action would have been brought against that party as well (see Buran v Coupal, 87 NY2d at 178; Arsell v Mass One LLC, 73 AD3d 668, 669; Boodoo v Albee Dental Care, 67 AD3d 717, 718). Here, the plaintiff failed to establish that Suite knew or should have known that, but for a mistake as to the identity of the proper parties, this action would have been brought against him as well (see Boodoo v Albee Dental Care, 67 AD3d at 718; Marino v Westchester Med. Group, P.C., 50 AD3d 861; Yovane v White Plains Hosp. Ctr., 228 AD2d 436, 437; see also Bumpus v New York City Tr. Auth., 66 AD3d 26, 34-35).

Furthermore, the Supreme Court properly denied that branch of the plaintiff's motion which was, in effect, pursuant to CPLR 1024 to name Andre Suite as a defendant in lieu of "John Doe." In order to employ the procedural mechanism made available by CPLR 1024, a plaintiff must show that he or she made timely efforts to identify the correct party before the statute of limitations expired (see Bumpus v New York City Tr. Auth., 66 AD3d at 29-30; Harris v North Shore Univ. Hosp. at Syosset, 16 AD3d 549, 550; Justin v Orshan, 14 AD3d 492, 492-493; Scoma v Doe, 2 AD3d 432, 433; Porter v Kingsbrook OB/GYN Assoc., 209 AD2d 497). Here, the plaintiff failed to make such a showing. 

Sanchez v Avuben Realty LLC2010 NY Slip Op 08780 (App. Div., 1st 2010)

An application brought pursuant to CPLR 5015 to be relieved from a judgment or order entered on default requires a showing of a reasonable excuse and legal merit to the defense asserted (see Crespo v A.D.A. Mgt., 292 AD2d 5, 9 [2002]). While the failure to keep a current address with the Secretary of State is generally not a reasonable excuse for default under CPLR 5015(a)(1) (id. at 9-10), where a court finds that a defendant failed to "personally receive notice of the summons in time to defend and has a meritorious defense," relief from a default may be permitted (CPLR 317; see Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v A.C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 NY2d 138, 142 [1986]).

Here, notwithstanding the Secretary of State's maintenance of the wrong corporate address, the evidence of record demonstrates that defendant did receive notice of the summons in time to interpose a defense, and inexplicably failed to do so. It is undisputed that six months after the complaint's filing, counsel for defendant's insurer contacted plaintiff's counsel to discuss settlement, at which time he was informed of the then-pending motion for default judgment. The very fact that settlement options were discussed at this time evidences that defendant was aware of plaintiff's action. Moreover, vacatur of a default judgment is not warranted merely because the default was occasioned by lapses on the part of an insurance carrier (see Klein v Actors & Directors Lab, 95 AD2d 757 [1983], lv dismissed 60 NY2d 559 [1983];Lemberger v Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar, Inc., 33 AD3d 671, 672 [2006]). The evidence of record also indicates that five months after filing of the summons and complaint, copies thereof were delivered to an undisputably valid address for defendant, as was notice of entry of the Supreme Court's March 26, 2007 order granting plaintiff's motion for default judgment and [*2]noticing an inquest as to damages. Still defendant took no action until approximately two-and-a-half years after the complaint's filing, when plaintiff attempted to collect on the Supreme Court's judgment.

Defendant failed to establish entitlement to vacatur of the default judgment under CPLR 5015(a)(3) due to an alleged fraud perpetrated by plaintiff in support of his complaint, as the affidavit it submitted in support of this claim was both conclusory and recounted hearsay.

Gibbs v St. Barnabas Hosp.2010 NY Slip Op 09198 (Ct. App. 2010)

Under CPLR 3042 (d), a court may invoke the relief set forth in CPLR 3126 when a "party served with a demand for a bill of particulars willfully fails to provide particulars which the court finds ought to have been provided pursuant to this rule." CPLR 3126, in turn, governs discovery penalties and applies where a party "refuses to obey an order for disclosure or wilfully fails to disclose information which the court finds ought to have been disclosed." The statute contains a list of nonexclusive sanctions and further permits courts to fashion orders "as are just." CPLR 3126 therefore broadly empowers a trial court to craft a conditional order — an order "that grants the motion and imposes the sanction 'unless' within a specified time the resisting party submits to the disclosure" (Connors, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 7B, CPLR C3126:10 ["The conditional order is in fact the most popular disposition under CPLR 3126"]; see also CPLR 3042 [d]).

The situation that developed in this case is, unfortunately, a scenario that we have seen before. In Fiore v Galang (64 NY2d 999 [1985], affg 105 AD2d 970 [3d Dept 1984]), a medical malpractice action, the trial court granted a 30-day conditional order of preclusion directing plaintiffs to serve a bill of particulars on the defendant hospital. Following plaintiffs' lack of compliance with the order, the hospital moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The trial court denied the motion on the condition that plaintiffs serve a bill of particulars and pay $415 to the hospital's attorneys [FN3]. On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the complaint, concluding that the trial court erred in excusing the default without requiring plaintiff to offer both a reasonable excuse and an affidavit of merit. We affirmed, explaining that "absent an affidavit of merits it was error, as a matter of law, not to grant defendant Hospital's motion for summary judgment" (id. at 1000 [emphasis added]).


In reaching this conclusion, we reiterate that "[l]itigation cannot be conducted efficiently if deadlines are not taken seriously, and we make clear again, as we have several times before, that disregard of deadlines should not and will not be tolerated" (Andrea v Arnone, Hedin, Casker, Kennedy & Drake, Architects & Landscape Architects, P.C. [Habiterra Assoc.], 5 NY3d 514, 521 [2005]; see also Wilson v Galicia Contr. & Restoration Corp., 10 NY3d 827, 830 [2008]; Miceli v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 3 NY3d 725, 726-727 [2004]; Brill, 2 NY3d at 652-653; Kihl, 94 NY2d at 123).




CPLR § 1024 John and Jane Doe

CPLR § 1024 Unknown parties

Thas v Dayrich Trading, Inc., 2010 NY Slip Op 08930 (App. Div., 2nd 2010)

"While CPLR 1024 allows a party who is ignorant of the name or identity of one who may properly be made a party to proceed by designating so much of his identity as is known, a summons served in a "John Doe" form is jurisdictionally sufficient only if the actual defendants are adequately described and would have known, from the description in the complaint, that they were the intended defendants"(Lebowitz v Fieldston Travel Bur., 181 AD2d 481, 482 [citation and internal quotation marks omitted]). Accordingly, that branch of the defendants' motion which was to vacate the default of the defendant John Doe in appearing or answering the complaint was properly granted since the summons was jurisdictionally insufficient with respect to John Doe, an unidentified person not adequately described in the complaint (see Carmer v Odd Fellows, 66 AD3d 1435; Olmsted v Pizza Hut of Am., Inc., 28 AD3d 855; Lebowitz v Fieldston Travel Bur.,181 AD2d 481). 

Bumpus (IMPORTANT): CPLR § 1024; § 306-b; § 3102; R. 3025; § 602; § 203

CPLR § 1024 Unknown parties

§ 306-b. Service of the summons and complaint, summons with notice,
third-party summons and complaint, or petition with a notice of
petition or order to show cause 

3102 Method of obtaining disclosure
(c) Before action commenced

CPLR R. 3025 Amended and supplemental pleadings
(b) Amendments and supplemental pleadings by leave

CPLR § 602 Consolidation
(a) Generally

CPLR § 203 Method of computing periods of limitation generally
(f) Claim in amended pleading

I'm only posting the analysis on this one.  For the facts in their entirety, read the decision.  For a brief intro to the decision, click here.

Bumpus v New York City Tr. Auth., 2009 NY Slip Op 05737 (App. Div., 2nd, 2009)

II. The Interplay of CPLR 1024 and 306-b

New York State Legislature has recognized that there are circumstances
where a party is ignorant, in whole or in part, of the identity of a
person who should be made a party to an action. CPLR 1024 allows for
the commencement of an action against an unknown party "by designating
so much of his name and identity as is known"
(see generally Orchard Park Cent. School Dist. v Orchard Park Teachers Assn., 50
AD2d 462, 467). To be effective, a summons and complaint must describe
the unknown party in such a manner that the "Jane Doe" would understand
that she is the intended defendant by a reading of the papers (see Olmsted v Pizza Hut of Am., Inc., 28 AD3d 855, 856; Justin v Orshan, 14 AD3d 492; Lebowitz v Fieldston Travel Bur., 181 AD2d 481, 482).

The use of CPLR 1024 presents many pitfalls. One pitfall is that
parties are not to resort to the "Jane Doe" procedure unless they
exercise due diligence, prior to the running of the statute of
limitations, to identify the defendant by name and, despite such
efforts, are unable to do so
(see Hall v Rao, 26 AD3d 694, 695; Justin v Orshan, 14 AD3d 492, 492-493; Opiela v May Indus. Corp., 10 AD3d 340, 341; Tucker v Lorieo, 291 AD2d 261; Porter v Kingsbrook OB/GYN Assoc., 209
AD2d 497). Any failure to exercise due diligence to ascertain the "Jane
Doe's" name subjects the complaint to dismissal as to that party (see Hall v Rao, 26 AD3d at 695; Justin v Orshan, 14 AD3d at 492-493; Opiela v May Indus. Corp., 10
AD3d at 341). A second requirement unique to CPLR 1024 is that the
"Jane Doe" party be described in such form as will fairly apprise the
party that she is the intended defendant (see City of Mount Vernon v Best Dev. Co., 268 NY 327, 331; Olmsted v Pizza Hut of Am., Inc., 28 AD3d at 856; Justin v Orshan, 14
AD3d at 492-493). An insufficient description subjects the "Jane Doe"
complaint to dismissal for being jurisdictionally defective (see Lebowitz v Fieldston Travel Bur., 181 AD2d 481, 482-483; Reid v Niagra Mach. & Tool Co., 170 AD2d 662). A third pitfall unique to CPLR 1024 is its interplay with CPLR 306-b.

Prior to 1992, when actions in the Supreme and County Courts
were commenced by the service of process rather than by filing, a party
suing a "Jane Doe" defendant was under no particular time deadline for
ascertaining the unknown party's identity, other than commencing an
action against all defendants prior to the expiration of the relevant
statute of limitations
(see Luckern [*3]v Lyondale Energy Ltd. Partnership, 229 AD2d 249, 255)[FN1].
However, the enactment of CPLR 306-a in 1992 required that actions in
Supreme and County Courts be commenced by filing rather than by service

(L 1992, ch 216, § 6; see generally Matter of Fry v Village of Tarrytown, 89
NY2d 714, 718-720) and upon filing, CPLR 306-b, which was enacted at
the same time as 306-a (L 1992, ch 216, § 7), superimposed the
requirement that service of process be effected within 120 days (see CPLR 306-b; see generally Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97
NY2d 95, 100-101). The filing of the summons with notice or summons and
complaint fixed the point at which an action was commenced for statute
of limitations purpose
(see Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97 NY2d at 100; Matter of Gershel v Porr, 89 NY2d 327, 330).

The enactment of CPLR 306-b placed plaintiffs wishing to
commence actions against "Jane Doe" defendants in an unenviable
position that did not previously exist. By virtue of CPLR 306-b,
plaintiffs were required to ascertain the identity of unknown "Jane
Doe" parties, and to serve process upon them, within 120 days from
As a practical matter, it is not always easy or even possible
for plaintiffs naming "Jane Doe" defendants to meet the service
expectations of CPLR 306-b. In any given case involving two or more
defendants including an unknown party, a plaintiff may serve process
upon the known defendants early in the 120-day service period, and then
wait 20 or 30 days for appearances and answers (see CPLR 320[a]), absent consent extensions or pre-answer motions to dismiss the complaint (see CPLR
3211). Upon the joinder of issue, the plaintiff may then serve
discovery demands upon the known parties or upon non-parties for
information that may identify the unknown party, and wait for responses
which may or may not be fruitful, complied with, or timely. The
mechanics of serving process upon known parties, joining issue,
demanding discovery, and receiving meaningful responses will, as a
practical matter, exhaust, in many cases, all or most of the 120-day
period of CPLR 306-b for effecting service upon the newly-identified
party. If a "Jane Doe" is the only named defendant in an action, the
timely identification of the party's true identity for service of
process is even more challenging.

The harshness of CPLR 306-b under these circumstances is
ameliorated, in appropriate instances, by the "good cause" and
"interest of justice" exceptions to CPLR 306-b.
These exceptions have
particular utility in actions where, as here, a plaintiff is delayed in
effecting service of process by virtue of not knowing the identity of a
target defendant.

The 120-day service provision of CPLR 306-b can be extended by
a court, upon motion, "upon good cause shown or in the interest of
justice" (CPLR 306-b). "Good cause" and "interest of justice" are two
separate and independent statutory standards
(see Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97 NY2d at 104). To establish good cause, a plaintiff must demonstrate reasonable diligence in attempting service (see Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97 NY2d at 105-06). Good cause will not exist where a plaintiff fails to make any effort at service (see Valentin v Zaltsman, 39 AD3d 852; Lipschitz v McCann, 13 AD3d 417), or fails to make at least a reasonably diligent effort at service (see e.g. Kazimierski v New York Univ., 18 AD3d 820; Baione v Central Suffolk Hosp., 14 AD3d 635, 636-637; Busler v Corbett, 259
AD2d 13, 15). By contrast, good cause may be found to exist where the
plaintiff's failure to timely serve process is a result of
circumstances beyond the plaintiff's control (see U.S. 1 Brookville Real Estate Corp. v Spallone, 13 Misc 3d 1236[A], quoting Eastern Refractories Co., Inc. v Forty-Eight Insulations, Inc., 187 FRD 503, 505; see also Greco v Renegades, Inc., 307 AD2d 711, 712 [difficulties of service associated with locating defendant enlisted in military]; Kulpa v Jackson, 3 Misc 3d 227, 235 [difficulties associated with service abroad through the Hague Convention]).

If good cause for an extension is not established, courts must consider the "interest of justice" standard of CPLR 306-b (see e.g. Busler v Corbett, 259
AD2d at 17). The interest of justice standard does not require
reasonably diligent efforts at service, but courts, in making their [*4]determinations, may consider the presence or absence of diligence, along with other factors (see Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97 NY2d at 105). The interest of justice standard is broader than the good cause standard (see Mead v Singleman, 24 AD3d 1142,
1144), as its factors also include the expiration of the statute of
limitations, the meritorious nature of the action, the length of delay
in service, the promptness of a request by the plaintiff for an
extension, and prejudice to the defendant (see Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97 NY2d at 105-106; Matter of Jordan v City of New York, 38 AD3d 336, 339; Estey-Dorsa v Chavez, 27 AD3d 277; Mead v Singleman, 24 AD3d at 1144; de Vries v Metropolitan Tr. Auth., 11 AD3d 312, 313; Hafkin v North Shore Univ. Hosp., 279 AD2d 86, 90-91, affd 97 NY2d 95; see also Slate v Schiavone Const. Co., 4 NY3d 816).

The practicing bar need not rely exclusively on the ameliorative
provisions of CPLR 306-b for coping with the difficulties posed by
pursuing actions against unknown parties. There are, in fact, at least
four procedural mechanisms that may be utilized which, if applicable
and successful, would render unnecessary a party's reliance upon "good
cause" or the "interest of justice" for additional time to serve
process upon "Jane Doe" defendants who cannot be readily identified.

One such method is pre-action disclosure as permitted by CPLR
The statute permits a prospective plaintiff to seek, by court
order, disclosure that will aid in bringing the action (see CPLR
3102[c]). It has been recommended that a request for pre-action
disclosure be sought by means of a special proceeding pursuant to CPLR
article 4
(see Connors, Practice Commentary, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, CPLR C3102:4, quoting Robinson v Government of Malaysia, 174 Misc 2d 560). While pre-action disclosure is often thought of as a device to enable the plaintiff to frame a complaint (see generally Matter of Wien & Malkin v Wichman, 255 AD2d 244; Matter of Perez v New York City Health and Hosps. Corp., 84 AD2d 789; Matter of Rosenberg v Brooklyn Union Gas Co., 80 AD2d 834; Matter of Urban v Hooker Chems. & Plastics Corp., 75 AD2d 720; Matter of Roland, 10 AD2d 263, 265) or to preserve evidence for a forthcoming lawsuit (see generally Matter of Thomas v New York City Tr. Police Dept., 91 AD2d 898; Gearing v Kelly, 15 AD2d 477; Matter of O'Grady v City of New York, 164 Misc 2d 171, 173; Matter of Spraggins v Current Cab Corp., 127
Misc 2d 774, 775), it has also been recognized as an appropriate device
for ascertaining the identities of prospective defendants
(see Matter of Alexander v Spanierman Gallery, LLC, 33 AD3d 411; Matter of Toal v Staten Is. Univ. Hosp., 300 AD2d 592; Matter of Stewart v New York City Tr. Auth., 112 AD2d 939, 940; Perez v New York City Health and Hosps. Corp., 84 AD2d at 789; Matter of Bergan v Sullivan Bros. Wood Prods. of Keeseville, 77 AD2d 723; Matter of Roland, 10
AD2d at 265). Plaintiffs' attorneys who are retained sufficiently in
advance of the expiration of the statute of limitations may avoid the
problem of identifying a "Jane Doe" defendant for service within the
time limits of CPLR 306-b, where successful pre-action disclosure
results in the identification of the unknown defendant prior to the
filing of a summons and complaint.

A second mechanism, available when a governmental entity may
know the identify of the unknown party, is the Freedom of Information
Law (Public Officers Law art 8, hereinafter FOIL). In a case such as
this involving a public employee, Public Officers Law § 89 would
require the disclosure of the employee's name
(see Matter of Faulkner v Del Giacco, 139
Misc 2d 790, 794 [disclosure of names of prison guards accused of
inappropriate behavior]), but exempt from disclosure the employee's
home address (see Public Officers Law §§ 87[2][b]; 89[2][b]; 89[7]; Matter of Pasik v State Bd. of Law Examiners, 114 Misc 2d 397, 407-408, mod 102
AD2d 395). Nothing in the Public Officers Law appears to prohibit the
disclosure of records identifying an employee's work location and
schedule, which was the information that the NYCTA ultimately agreed to
provide to the plaintiff's counsel in this instance to enable service
of process upon Smith. FOIL requests are designed to be acted upon by
public agencies expeditiously, typically within five business days from
receipt of a written request for non-exempt records (see Public
Officers Law § 95[1][a]). The speed of the statute can prove useful to
practitioners who, facing an approaching statute of limitations, seek
to identify the "Jane Doe" party prior to the commencement of the

Third, if pre-action discovery or FOIL requests are not viable
options, plaintiffs intending to pursue a "Jane Doe" defendant may
commence their actions against any known co-defendants, who may possess
information identifying the unknown party, well in advance of the
statute of limitations
(accord Misa v Hossain, 42 AD3d at 486).
Doing so affords two distinct procedural options. If the discovery
process would not lead to an identification of the unknown target in
sufficient time for service of process upon that party under the
limited 120-day deadline of CPLR 306-b, the subsequent disclosure of
identifying information will still permit, within the wider statute of
limitations, either an amended complaint by stipulation or by leave of
court naming the [*5]additional party (see CPLR
3025[b]), or alternatively, the commencement of a timely separate
action against the additional party with a view to its later
consolidation with the original action (see CPLR 602[a]
; cf. Matter of Vogel, 19 Misc 3d 853,
859). Commencing the initial action well before the expiration of the
statute of limitations makes service upon the newly-identified party
possible. The same result does not inure to practitioners who wait
until the limitations period is close to expiring before commencing
their actions against known parties.

Fourth, when an originally-named defendant and an unknown "Jane
Doe" party are united in interest, i.e. employer and employee, the
later-identified party may, in some instances, be added to the suit
after the statute of limitations has expired pursuant to the
"relation-back" doctrine of CPLR 203(f), based upon post-limitations
disclosure of the unknown party's identity
(see Reznick v MTA/Long Is. Bus, 7 AD3d 773, 774; Gottlieb v County of Nassau, 92
AD2d 858). The relation-back doctrine allows a party to be added to an
action after the expiration of the statute of limitations, and the
claim is deemed timely interposed, if (1) the claim arises out of the
same conduct, transaction, or occurrence, (2) the additional party is
united in interest with the original party, and (3) the additional
party knew or should have known that but for a mistake by the plaintiff
as to the identity of the proper parties, the action would have been
brought against the additional party as well (see Buran v Coupal, 87
NY2d 173, 178). The moving party seeking to apply the relation-back
doctrine to a later-identified "Jane Doe" defendant has the added
burden of establishing that diligent efforts were made to ascertain the
unknown party's identity prior to the expiration of the statute of
limitations (see Hall v Rao, 26 AD3d at 695; Scoma v Doe, 2 AD3d at 433; Tucker v Lorieo, 291 AD2d at 262).

Furthermore, if the plaintiff is truly at the mercy of a service
extension under CPLR 306-b, which is discretionary on the part of the
(compare Crystal v Lisnow, 56 AD3d 713, 714 with Cooper v New York City Bd. of Educ., 55 AD3d 526),
any "Jane Doe" service problem should be proactively addressed by the
filing of a motion for a CPLR 306-b extension. Indeed, the promptness
of a request for an extension of time to serve a "Jane Doe" defendant
is a specific factor that is to be considered by courts in determining
"interest of justice" extensions
(see Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97 NY2d at 105-106; Matter of Anonymous v New York State Off. of Children & Family Servs., 53 AD3d 810, 810-811; Rosenzweig v 60 N. St. LLC, 35 AD3d 705; Scarabaggio v Olympia & York Estates Co., 278 AD2d 476, affd
97 NY2d 95). While CPLR 306-b is not construed to require that a motion
for a service extension be filed before the expiration of the 120-day
statutory period (see Leader v Maroney, Ponzini & Spencer, 97 NY2d at 106-07), prompt motions are more likely to be successful (id.; Scarabaggio v Olympia & York Estates Co., 278 AD2d at 476), as they are a sign of diligence, whereas dilatory motions are less so (see Matter of Anonymous v New York State Off. of Children & Family Services, 53 AD3d at 810-811).

The bold is mine.