By Schonauer Law on Sep 08, 2016 at 07:03 PM in What Does it Mean


Under California Code of Civil Procedure section 474, if a Plaintiff is ignorant of the name of a potential defendant, a defendant in the complaint may be named as a “Doe” defendant.  Often the caption of a complaint filed in the court will include DOES 1 – 10 as defendants 

Not only is this a useful tool, it is highly recommended.  When a complaint is filed a plaintiff often has no knowledge others may have been involved.  For example, David Anderson may knows the identity of an individual, Walter Smith, who improperly removed plaintiff’s property from his or her garage, but does not know for certain the individual was the only individual involved.  Under this situation the complaint would take the following form:

DAVID ANDERSON, an individual.



Walter Smith, an individual; DOES 1 – 10. 


There are formalities necessary when adding DOE defendants to a complaint, one such formality is the requirement to plead that the true names and capacities of the Doe Defendants are unknown to Plaintiff(s) and once Plaintiff(s) learn the true names and capacities of any

Doe Defendants, Plaintiffs shall seek to amend the Complaint to reflect the true names and capacities of the Doe defendants.

Once the name of a Doe defendant is identified, the complaint must be amended to reflect the true name of the defendant.  If no defendant has answered the complaint and before a demurrer has been heard by the court, a plaintiff may amend the complaint and add the new defendant.  The amended complaint is then served on all parties.

If a party answers the complaint or the court has ruled on a demurrer, generally a plaintiff must ask permission to amend the complaint to add a DOE defendant.  Most counties have simple forms that allows simple amendments relating to naming.  Generally, if you are only replacing the name DOE 1 with Hugo Stiglitz you may do so without a court order.  Simple file the one-page form with the court.  Plead your facts relating to DOE defendants carefully to make the process easier.  E.g. The complaint should state, “Plaintiffs are informed and believe and based on such information and belief allege that on or about January 1, 2016, Defendant DAVID ANDERSON, DOE 1, DOE 2, DOE 3 …, and DOE 10 entered laintiff’s garage without notice and without permission and removed plaintiff property” Such a format will permit easy replacement of DOE defendants with proper names if it is necessary.

The Summons must be amended as well to reflect service on a fictitious Defendant “on behalf” of the now known Defendant.

Jul 31, 2023 Arrow1 Down Reply
Juanita Romero

I have an old case of wrongful of 2018 I represent my self my ex attorney left my case I am trying to add a doe defendant I would like to pay an attorney to help me with amendment paperwork because no attorney can help me so I am willing to fight my own case but would like to pay a paralegal or attorney with help of paperwork.please .thank you this case has to do for a discrimination case due to my back injury.thank you I'm close to trial in September.