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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Medical Malpractice (n.k.a. Health Care Liability Action): Tennessee Supreme Court Holds That 120-day Extension of the Statute of Limitations Does Not Apply to Governmental Entities

The Tennessee Supreme Court just decided Cunningham v. Williamson Cnty. Hosp. Dist., No. M2011-00554-SC-S09-CV (Tenn. May 9, 2013).  The summary of the opinion reads as follows:
A husband and wife filed a claim against a county hospital alleging that the negligence of the hospital and its employees caused the death of their son. The claim was filed approximately fifteen months after their son’s death in accordance with the provisions of the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121 (2012). The county hospital, a governmental entity, filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the claim was filed outside the one-year statute of limitations of the Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”). Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-305(b) (2012). The couple responded that their complaint was timely filed because Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c) extended the GTLA statute of limitations by 120 days. The trial court denied the hospital’s motion to dismiss but granted an interlocutory appeal under Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Court of Appeals granted the Rule 9 application and affirmed the trial court’s denial of the hospital’s motion to dismiss. We granted the hospital permission to appeal. We hold that the 120-day extension provided by Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c) does not apply to the plaintiffs’ claim brought under the GTLA. We therefore reverse the judgment of the trial court denying the hospital’s motion to dismiss and remand the case to the trial court for entry of an order dismissing Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham’s complaint.
Here's a link to the opinion:

NOTE: This is a follow-up post to my Dec. 1, 2012 one.  Please see that one too.

Moreover, this is a must-read opinion for any lawyer who handles health care liability actions (f.k.a. medical malpractice actions) against governmental entities.  It may, however, only be applicable to cases that accrued before October 1, 2011, which can be discerned from a careful reading of the opinion.  

1 comment:

Medical Negligence Claim (Australia) said...

As medical law solicitors - really appreciate the information is this blog. Keep up the good work.