Tennessee Court of Appeals Holds that Plaintiffs’ Motion to Revise Should Have Been Granted in Medical Malpractice Case

Like other personal injury and wrongful death cases, a Knoxville medical malpractice lawsuit usually sounds in negligence. In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove four things:  that the defendant owed a certain duty of care, that the duty was breached, that the plaintiff was harmed, and that there was a causal link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s damages.Legal News Gavel

Failing to prove any one of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence will result in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case, the plaintiffs were family members of a woman who died while incarcerated at a county jail. They filed a claim against the defendant, a contractor that provided medical services to the jail, seeking compensation for their loved one’s wrongful death. According to the plaintiff, the defendant was liable for the negligence of its nurse, who was on duty at the time of their loved one’s death, as well as for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision.

After the defendant moved for summary judgment on the basis that there was not a genuine issue of material fact as to causation, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion to revise based on the newly submitted declarations of an expert physician. The trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion, and they appealed.

Decision of the Court

The Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville reversed the trial court’s order denying the plaintiffs’ motion to revise. Although the plaintiffs stated that their motion to revise was in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 54, the appellate court opined that the motion sought relief that was more consistent with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 59 and treated it as such. The court went on to explain that a Rule 59 motion allows a trial court to correct factual errors or mistakes regarding the law that may have been overlooked or that the court may have failed to consider.

Here, the plaintiffs’ motion was based on previously unavailable evidence, specifically the declarations of a doctor who was an expert in pathology, and it was supported by an affidavit by the plaintiffs’ attorney, explaining that the expert had suffered an injury that had resulted in communication difficulties. The appellate court went on to hold that, given the policy of hearing cases on their merits and the absence of any unfair prejudice to the defendant occasioned by the delay in the expert’s testimony, the interests of justice required that the plaintiffs’ motion to revise be granted.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one and believe that the negligence of a medical professional or other individual may have been to blame, you need legal advice concerning your rights. Tennessee has a short statute of limitations for wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits, and failing to file a claim within this time period will likely cause your case to be dismissed by the court. For a free consultation with an experienced Knoxville wrongful death lawyer, call the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C., at 865-524-5657.

Related Blog Posts

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Tennessee Court of Appeals Sends Medical Malpractice Case Back to Trial Court with Instructions Concerning Number of Peremptory Challenges

 

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