Toy v. Katz

In Toy v. Katz, 192 Ariz. 73, 961 P.2d 1021 (App. 1997), the Toys sued Katz, their former attorney, for legal malpractice. During discovery, the Toys learned that their corporation was in fact the real party in interest. Id. at 80, 87, 961 P.2d at 1028, 1035. The superior court ruled that the Toys could not add the corporation as a real party in interest because the claims would not relate back to the date the complaint was filed and, at that point, they were barred by the statute of limitations. Id. at 80, 961 P.2d at 1028. The Court reversed, first noting that the plain language of Rule 17(a) reflects that a mistake in identifying the proper plaintiff is not fatal to an action. Id. at 87-88, 961 P.2d at 1035-36. The Court found that the superior court "ignored the plain language of Rule 17 and erred in ruling that the amendment adding the Corporation did not relate back." Id. at 87, 961 P.2d at 1035. The Court also quoted the State Bar Committee Note as support for the proposition that, where the proper party is difficult to identify, Rule 17(a) permits relation back. Id. at 87-88, 961 P.2d at 1035-36. Although Toy involved difficulty in identifying the real party in interest and an understandable mistake, we do not read the decision as mandating that those conditions exist to avoid dismissal under Rule 17(a).