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Monday, July 09, 2018

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Trial Court's Denial of Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Overturned on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion today in Smith v. Wellmont Health Systems, No. E2017-00850-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jul. 9, 2018).  The syllabus from the opinion reads as follows:
This interlocutory appeal involves a health care liability action. Plaintiff gave potential defendants written notice of his malpractice claim. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c). Plaintiff then filed his complaint. In doing so, he relied upon a 120-day extension of the one year statute of limitations as provided for in § 29-26-121(c). Each defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. By an order entered April 1, 2015, the trial court granted the joint motion to dismiss of three of the defendants. The court’s order concluded that plaintiff’s complaint was time-barred. Plaintiff did not appeal the court’s judgment and, with the passage of time, it became final. Meanwhile, the motions to dismiss of the other defendants, all of which were essentially based upon the same ground as that of the joint motion of the dismissed defendants, were awaiting resolution by the trial court. Before this could happen, however, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his complaint. Nine months later, plaintiff sent a new pre-suit notice. Four months after that, plaintiff filed a second health care liability action against the same defendants, including those dismissed by the trial court in its April 1, 2015 order. All defendants again moved to dismiss the complaint. The trial court denied the motions. Later, the trial court decided that its April 1, 2015 dismissal order was incorrect. It concluded that plaintiff’s first complaint was not time-barred because, according to the court, plaintiff provided proper pre-suit notice. On the defendants’ further motions, the court granted them permission to pursue an interlocutory appeal pursuant to the provisions of Tenn. R. App. P. 9. We did likewise. We now reverse the judgment of the trial court denying defendants’ motions to dismiss. 
Here is a link to the slip opinion:

NOTE: This opinion was consolidated for purpose of oral argument with Roberts v. Wellmont Health Systems, No. E2017-00845-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jul. 5, 2018), which is the subject of my July 6, 2018 blog post, to wit:

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