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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Medical Malpractice: Statutorily Required Presuit Notice Does Not Provide 120-day Extension of One-year Statute of Limitations Against Governmental Entity

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released its opinion yesterday in Lawring v. Green Cnty. EMS, No. E2011-1201-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 17, 2012). The summary of the opinion reads as follows:
In this action the defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds the statute of limitation had run on plaintiff's cause of action. The Trial Court overruled the Motion on the grounds that the tolling provisions in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-201(c) was applicable to GTLA actions and granted permission to appeal pursuant to Tenn. R. App. P. 9. On appeal, we hold that the tolling provision does not apply because the statute did not expressly extend it to GTLA actions.
The issue on appeal was stated on page 3 of the opinion as follows: 
Does the medical malpractice pre-suit notice requirement contained in Tennessee Code Annotated §29-26-121(a) operate to toll the one year statute of limitations for bringing suit against a governmental entity under the GTLA?
Here's a link to the opinion:

This opinion, which was issued by the Eastern Section Court of Appeals, is in direct contradiction to the opinion released by the Middle Section Court of Appeals in Cunningham ex rel. Cunningham v. Williamson Cnty. Hosp. Dist., which was the subject of my December 1, 2011 post, to wit:

The Tennessee Supreme Court granted permission to appeal in Cunningham on April 16, 2012.  It was argued on October 3, 2012.  To state the obvious, the decision in that case will affect the outcome of this case.  

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