fictitious defendants

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fictitious defendants

n. when a party suing (plaintiff) is not sure if he/she knows if there are unknown persons involved in the incident or the business being sued, there are named fictitious persons, usually designated Doe I, Doe II, and so forth, or "Green and Red Company," with an allegation in the complaint that if and when the true names are discovered they will be inserted in the complaint by amendment. Naming fictitious defendants stops the statute of limitations (the time in which a party has to file a lawsuit) from running out even though the true name is not yet known. Sometimes during the investigation or discovery (taking depositions or asking written questions under oath) new information about a potential defendant is found and the real name substituted. Then that person is served with a summons and complaint. If no substitution of a real name for a Doe has been made by the time of trial, usually the fictitious defendants are then dismissed from the case since they never existed in the first place, and the case continues against the named defendants. Fictitious defendants are not permitted in federal cases.

References in periodicals archive ?
Consider whether to file a John Doe lawsuit to pursue defamation or infringement claims against the imposter.
However, the John Doe lawsuit lets libraries know that the government has even broader power to seek out library records than is provided by the more widely known Section 215.
Specifics of how and when the most recent Massachusetts cases of alleged piracy occurred were not outlined in court papers, but according to the RIAA, its investigators search for copyrighted recordings made available by individuals on peer-to-peer networks, then use the subscriber's Internet protocol address to file a so-called John Doe lawsuit until the individual's identity can be learned.
These mass John Doe lawsuits typically are procedurally deficient, he argues.