Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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A potential plaintiff who provides pre-suit notice to one potential defendant is not required under Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) to provide the single potential defendant with a HIPAA-compliant medical authorization. Plaintiff sent a pre-suit notice of her healthcare liability claim to a single healthcare provider and included a medical authorization. Dr. Radwan Khuri moved to dismiss the case, asserting that Plaintiff had failed to povide a HIPAA-compliant medical authorization under section 29-26-121(a)(2)(E). The trial court granted Dr. Khuri’s motion and dismissed the complaint, concluding that the authorization provided by Plaintiff did not substantially comply with HIPAA or with the requirements of section 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) and that Defendant was prejudiced by Plaintiff’s deficient authorization. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that a HIPAA-compliant medical authorization was not required in this case because Plaintiff’s pre-suit notice was sent to a single provider. View "Bray v. Khuri" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendant, a licensed clinical social worker, alleging negligence, negligence per se, and intentional infliction of emotional distress for providing counseling services for their minor daughter without their consent. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on Plaintiffs’ failure to comply with the pre-suit notice and certificate of good faith requirements of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act (“THCLA”). Plaintiffs responded that their claims were not subject to the THCLA’s procedural requirements because their claims sounded in ordinary negligence. The trial court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that the THCLA encompassed Plaintiffs’ claims because they related to the provision of “health care services” by a “health care provider.” The Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s order and remanded, concluding that the trial court erred by failing to apply the Supreme Court’s analysis in determining if Plaintiffs’ claims sounded in ordinary negligence or health care liability. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding (1) the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011, which amended the THCLA, statutorily abrogated the Court’s decision in Estate of French; and (2) Plaintiff’s complaint was subject to the THCLA, which required them to provide pre-suit notice and a certificate of good faith. View "Ellithorpe v. Weismark" on Justia Law

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In this health care liability case Plaintiff sent Defendants pre-suit notice of the claim via FedEx. Defendants moved for summary judgment, alleging that Plaintiff failed to comply with the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121(a)(3)(B) and (a)(4) by not using certified mail, return receipt requested, through the U.S. Postal Service. The trial court dismissed the complaint, concluding that strict compliance with the manner and proof of service requirements of sections 29-26-121(a)(3)(B) and (a)(4) was required. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the manner and proof of service prescribed by sections 29-26-121(a)(3)(B) and (a)(4) may be achieved through substantial compliance; (2) delivery of pre-suit notice by private commercial carrier and filing of proof with the complaint constitutes substantial compliance with sections 29-26-121(a)(3)(B) and (a)(4); and (3) because Defendants received notice and were not prejudiced by the manner of service, Plaintiff’s provision of pre-suit notice to Defendants through the use of FedEx and filing of proof with the complaint constituted substantial compliance with the manner and proof of service requirements of the pre-suit notice statute. Remanded. View "Arden v. Kozawa" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against Defendants. The trial court granted Plaintiff’s request to voluntarily dismiss the action without prejudice after Defendants moved to dismiss the action on the grounds that the certificate of good faith was noncompliant with the requirement of Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-122(d)(4) that a certificate of good faith filed in a medical malpractice action disclose the number of prior violations of the statute by the executing party. Defendants appealed, arguing that the action should have been dismissed with prejudice because Plaintiff did not disclose that there were no prior violations by Plaintiff’s counsel. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 29-26-122(d)(4)’s requirement does not also require disclosure of the absence of any prior violations of the statute. View "Davis ex rel. Davis v. Ibach" on Justia Law

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Doctor performed a spinal fusion on Patient. When Patient’s back pain worsened, Patient sued Doctor, alleging that Doctor failed to give him adequate information to enable him to give an informed consent to the surgery. In a pretrial deposition, Patient’s expert testified that to obtain informed consent, Doctor was required to inform Patient about all the potential risks that might arise from the surgery. The trial court granted Doctor’s motion to limit Patient’s expert witness testimony only to those risks that allegedly materialized and injured Patient. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Doctor’s favor. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s exclusion of the expert medical testimony. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred by excluding expert testimony regarding undisclosed medical risks that had not materialized, and this error, more likely than not, affected the jury’s verdict. Remanded for a new trial on the issue of informed consent. View "White v. Beeks" on Justia Law

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In this health care liability case, Plaintiffs, before filing their health care liability complaint, gave Defendants written notice pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121(a)(1). Plaintiffs subsequently voluntarily dismissed their case. The next year, Plaintiffs filed a new complaint, raising the same claims against the same defendants. Plaintiffs did not give Defendants pre-suit notice before filing the second action. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice for Plaintiffs’ failure to comply with the notice requirement of section 29-26-121(a)(1). The Court of Appeals reversed, determining that, since the complaints were essentially identical, the statute required only that Defendants be notified once. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the action without prejudice, holding (1) section 29-26-121(a)(1) requires that plaintiffs notify prospective defendants of a forthcoming health care liability lawsuit before the filing of each complaint, and the sanction for failure to comply with the statute is dismissal without prejudice; and (2) Plaintiffs in this case failed to provide the required pre-suit notice. View "Foster v. Chiles" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against Defendant, who performed laser surgery on Plaintiff’s eye. Before trial, Defendant filed a motion seeking a waiver of Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-115(b)’s contiguous state requirement, which would allow an ophthalmologist from Florida to testify as an expert witness. The trial court denied the motion, finding that Defendant had not established that appropriate witnesses would otherwise be unavailable. The court of appeals granted Defendant a Tenn. R. App. P. 10 extraordinary appeal and concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to waive the contiguous state requirement. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals, holding that the court of appeals improvidently granted Defendant’s application for extraordinary appeal. View "Gilbert v. Wessels" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against Defendant-health care providers. Six days before filing his complaint, Defendant sent a pre-suit notice of his potential claim to each Defendant by certified mail, return receipt requested, as permitted by Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121(a)(1). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that Plaintiff failed to file with his complaint an affidavit of the person who had sent the pre-suit notice by certified mail. The trial court dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed but noted the harsh results strict compliance produces in cases such as this one where no prejudice is alleged. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the complaint, holding (1) the statutory requirement that an affidavit of the person who sent the pre-suit notice by certified mail be filed with the complaint may be satisfied by substantial compliance; and (2) Plaintiff substantially complied with the statute in this case. View "Thurmond v. Mid-Cumberland Infectious Disease Consultants, PLC " on Justia Law

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After Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against Defendant, the General Assembly enacted Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121 and -122, which implemented pre-suit notice and certificate of good faith requirements. Plaintiff subsequently dismissed her original action and filed two successive actions. The second action did not comply with sections 29-26-121 and -122, but the third action complied with the statutes. Plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate her second and third actions. Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff’s second action should be dismissed for failure to comply with the notice and certificate of good faith requirements and that her third action should be dismissed based on the doctrine of prior suit pending. The trial court denied the motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court granted Defendant’s application for extraordinary appeal. During the pendency of the appeal, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her second action. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that Plaintiff’s third complaint was timely filed because Plaintiff properly provided pre-suit notice of her claim prior to filing her third action and was entitled to a 120-day extension in which to refile her complaint. Remanded. View "Cannon ex rel. Good v. Reddy" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against Defendant, a physician. Plaintiff's original complaint was filed prior to the effective date of the pre-suit notice requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his original action. Plaintiff subsequently filed his action after the effective date of section 29-26-121. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that Plaintiff's second action was barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff responded that (1) his pre-suit notice commenced his new action prior to the expiration of the one-year saving statute; and (2) alternatively, section 29-26-121 extended the saving statute by 120 days. The trial court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's action was commenced by the filing of his second health care liability complaint rather than by providing pre-suit notice; and (2) a plaintiff who files his initial action prior to the effective date of section 29-26-121 dismisses his original action, properly provides pre-suit notice, and refiles his action after the effective date of section 29-26-121 is entitled to the 120-day extension. View "Rajvongs v. Wright" on Justia Law