Court dismisses whistleblower claim because employee confused about the name of his employer
Kenneth Johnson sued Hungry Howie's in Wexford County Circuit Court, alleging that he was wrongfully fired from his job. Johnson alleged that he was entitled to Whistleblower's protection, therefore requiring him to file his suit within 90 days of the termination. He filed within the deadline, but mistakenly identified his employer as "Hungry Howie's Properties, Inc." rather than "Hungry Howie's PIzza & Subs, Inc." Both corporations are located at the same office and share the same telephone number. Most likely, for tax purposes, one corporation owns the real estate and the other runs the business but their ownership is probably virtually identical. The Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Johnson's claim, based on Johnson's naming of the wrong corporate defendant during the short statutory limitation period.
While a naming mistake caused by confusion can usually be corrected and "related back" to the date of original filing, the Court denied Johnson this relief. Despite the similarity of names and the confusion of the shared address and telephone number, the Court held that plaintiff had "ready access" to the correct name and therefore could not amend to correct his error. This passes for justice in the 21st century.