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Friday, August 12, 2011

Medical Malpractice: New Tenn. Sup. Ct. Opinion on the Locality Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court just issued its opinion in Shipley v. Williams, No. M2007-01217-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Aug. 11, 2011). Here's the summary from the opinion:

In medical malpractice actions, Tennessee adheres to a locality rule for expert medical witnesses. Claimants are required by statute to prove by expert testimony the recognized standard of acceptable professional practice in the community where the defendant medical provider practices or a similar community. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-115 (2000 & Supp. 2010). Since the locality rule was enacted in 1975, Tennessee courts have reached different conclusions in interpreting it. The rule does not define “similar community,” nor does it provide guidance as to how a community is determined to be “similar” to the defendant’s community. In this case, we address and clarify the applicable standards that courts should use in determining whether a medical expert is qualified to testify as an expert witness in a medical malpractice case. Applying these standards, we hold that the trial court’s exclusion of the claimant’s two proffered medical experts under the locality rule was error. The
trial court’s grant of summary judgment is affirmed in part and vacated in part.
Here's a link to the opinion:

The opinion is a must-read for the medical malpractice lawyer in Tennessee.

Also, there is a separate concurrence and dissent by Justice Koch. Here's the link to it:

And, interstingly enough, immediate past Chief Justice Janice Holder wrote a separate concurrence to address Justice Koch's opinion. That opinion can be found at this link:

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