This appeal presents two issues for review: 1) whether a person asserting a health care liability claim must give written notice of the claim to all potential health care defendants before re-filing a complaint, or whether notice given before filing the first complaint is sufficient notice for a subsequently filed complaint against the same defendants; and 2) if pre-suit notice is required for each complaint, whether the sanction for noncompliance is a dismissal with or without prejudice. The plaintiffs, before filing their health care liability complaint, gave the defendants written notice under Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1). Thereafter, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their complaint. The plaintiffs re-filed their complaint but did not provide the defendants with notice before the re-filing. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice for failure to comply with the notice requirement of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1). The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the plaintiffs had to give pre-suit notice only once and that pre-suit notice for the first complaint was sufficient for any subsequently filed complaints asserting the same claims against the same defendants. We hold that Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1) requires that plaintiffs notify prospective defendants of a forthcoming health care liability lawsuit before the filing of each complaint. The sanction for failure to comply with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1) is a dismissal without prejudice.
The opinion from the Tennessee Court of Appeals can be found at my October 12, 2013 post on this blog.