This is a healthcare liability action. The trial court granted Defendants’ joint motion for a qualified protective order pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(f)(1), but added several conditions not specifically provided in the statute. The trial court denied Defendants’ joint motion for permission to seek an interlocutory appeal, and we granted Defendants’ motion for an extraordinary appeal to this Court under Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. We reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand for further proceedings.
NOTE: It is important to keep on mind that this is an interlocutory appeal under Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure where the the focus is upon what restrictions a trial court can place upon a qualified protective order under -121(f); that is it. Per this opinion, a trial court may not require that the interviewed providers respond under oath; that a court reporter be present; or that the recorded interviews be filed under seal.
Further, Judge Stafford's concurring opinion foreshadows an effective constitutional challenge to -121(f). While it doesn't mention it per se, I think it lends a lot of credibility to a separation-of-powers challenge.
Lastly, this opinion is the first Tennessee state-court appellate opinion that I am aware of that directly addresses -121(f).