Tennessee Court Reverses Dismissal of Health Care Liability Action as to Two Defendants

In an east Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must do more than simply file a claim in the manner that is generally required in a negligence case. Instead, he or she must also provide certain pre-suit notice to the defendant(s) and supply the defendant(s) with a medical authorization form so that he or she may review the plaintiff’s medical records. Failing to comply with each and every one of these requirements will usually result in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who sued several defendants in January 2015, alleging that he had been a victim of medical malpractice in regard to a failed hip replacement. According to the plaintiff, he had gotten an infection after the procedure and had suffered kidney failure. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed (“nonsuited”) some of the defendants in his first lawsuit; the trial court later dismissed the complaint against the remaining defendants without prejudice, for lack of prosecution.

The plaintiff, joined by his wife, filed a second lawsuit in July 2016, again alleging a claim for malpractice. The plaintiffs attached a certificate of good faith, an affidavit of having mailed notice of claim letters to each defendant, and copies of HIPAA authorizations that were allegedly mailed to the defendants. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint, asserting that the plaintiffs had failed to comply with the pre-suit notice requirements of Tennessee’s health care liability laws and that their claims were untimely under the applicable statute of limitations.

Decision of the Court

On appeal by the plaintiffs, the Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the husband’s claims against two of the physicians, concluding that the husband was entitled to a 120-day extension of the limitations period pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c). After adding 120 days to the date of the trial court’s order approving the husband’s voluntary non-suit, the appellate court found that the husband had filed his second complaint within the statute of limitations. In so holding, the court noted that it was interpreting the husband’s complaint “liberally” and was presuming the truth of his allegations regarding the medical authorization required under Tennessee law.

(The court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the husband’s complaint against the other defendants. The dismissal of the wife’s loss of consortium claims on the basis of the statute of limitations was also affirmed.)

Do You Need Legal Advice?

If you or a loved one has been a victim of an act of medical negligence, you should speak to a knowledgeable east Tennessee medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. At the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C., we can arrange for a free consultation in our Knoxville or Maryville offices or in your home, if need be. Call us at 865-524-5657 to schedule an appointment. We handle cases throughout east Tennessee, including in Knoxville, Maryville, Oak Ridge, Kingston, Sevierville, Lenoir City, and La Follete.

More Blog Posts:

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

Trial Court Improperly Dismissed Health Care Liability Action for Lack of Pre-Suit Notice, According to Tennessee Court of Appeals

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