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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

New Health Care Liability Opinion: Trial Court's Grant of Summary Judgment to Defense Upheld on Appeal Due to Lack of Sufficient Expert Testimony

The Tennessee Court of Appeals, Western Section, released its opinion Graham v. Family Cancer Center, PLLC, No. W2016-00859-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jun. 5, 2017).  Here is the syllabus from the slip opinion:
This is a medical malpractice action.  The plaintiffs timely filed suit against the defendants concerning the failure to timely diagnose the husband’s prostate cancer. After voluntarily dismissing the initial suit, the plaintiffs provided pre-suit notice before filing a second suit pursuant to the saving statute. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked sufficient expert testimony to establish their claim. The court agreed and granted summary judgment. We affirm.
(Footnote omitted.)

Here is a link to the slip opinion:

http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/grahamsamuelopn.pdf

New NIED Opinion: Trial Court's Dismissal of Claim Reversed on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, issued its opinion in Henderson v. Vanderbilt University, No. M2016-01876-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 31, 2017).  Here is the syllabus from the slip opinion:
The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the defendant hospital on the ground hat the plaintiffs could not establish that they witnessed or perceived an injury-producing event for purposes of their negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. We hold that the alleged failure of the defendant hospital to provide care to the plaintiffs’ daughter, despite repeated assurances from the hospital that it would occur, constitutes an injury-producing event that was witnessed by plaintiffs. Accordingly, the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiffs’ negligent infliction of emotional distress claims on this basis.
Here is a link to the slip opinion:


Here is a link to Judge Gibson's dissent:

http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/henderson.rodney.diss_.opn_.pdf

NOTE: The majority opinion does a good job of outlining the current state of NIED claims in Tennessee.


New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Trial Court's Dismissal of Mother's Claim as Being Time-barred Upheld on Appeal; Trial Court's Dismissal of Child's Claim Is Reversed, However, Due to Extension of Statute of Repose via Proper Presuit Notification to Defendants of That Claim

The Tennessee Court of Appeals, Western Section, issued its opinion in Woodruff v. Walker, No. W2016-01895-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 26, 2017).  The syllabus from the slip opinion states as follows:
The plaintiffs, a mother and her child, filed this health care liability action in September 2015. The complaint alleged that both plaintiffs suffered permanent injuries resulting from the defendant health care providers’ negligent care during the child’s birth in June 2012. The defendants moved to dismiss the mother’s claims based on expiration of the one-year statute of limitations in Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-116(a)(1) and to dismiss the claims of both plaintiffs based on expiration of the three-year statute of repose in Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-116(a)(3). With regard to the statute of limitations, the plaintiffs argued that the mother’s claims were timely filed because the discovery rule delayed the accrual of her claims until March 2015 and because she had been “adjudicated incompetent” within the meaning of Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-1-106 such that the limitations period was tolled as to her claims. With regard to the statute of repose, the plaintiffs argued that their claims were timely filed because they were entitled to rely on Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c), which extends the three-year statute of repose by 120 days when sufficient pre-suit notice is given. Following a hearing, the trial court concluded that neither the discovery rule nor Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-1-106 applied to the mother’s claims and that her claims were therefore filed after expiration of the one-year statute of limitations. Additionally, the trial court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient presuit notice because the medical authorizations included in their pre-suit notice did not permit the defendants to obtain their complete medical records. Specifically, the trial court found the authorizations insufficient because they did not permit the defendants to obtain relevant medical records from prenatal treatment that the mother received prior to the date of the delivery. The trial court therefore concluded that the plaintiffs were not entitled to rely on the 120-day extended filing period and their claims were filed after expiration of the three-year statute of repose. The trial court dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ claims, and the plaintiffs appealed. Having reviewed the record submitted on appeal, we hold that the trial court properly dismissed the mother’s claims based on expiration of the one-year statute of limitations. We further hold, however, that the trial court erred in dismissing the child’s claims based on expiration of the three-year statute of repose. Records from prenatal treatment that the mother received prior to the date of the delivery were the mother’s medical records, and the child could not have unilaterally authorized their release. As such, his failure to do so did not render the medical authorizations provided with his pre-suit notice insufficient. The defendants have not asserted any other deficiencies in the child’s pre-suit notice. Because the child provided sufficient pre-suit notice, he was entitled to rely on Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c), which extended the filing period by 120 days. The child’s claims were therefore timely filed prior to expiration of the extended statute of repose in October 2015. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Here is a link to the opinion:

http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/woodruffjoshlinopn.pdf