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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Trial Court's Denial of Motions to Dismiss Based upon a Finding of Extraordinary Cause Upheld on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals just issued its opinion in Reed v. West Tennessee Healthcare, Inc., No. W2018-00227-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 8, 2018).  Here is the syllabus from the slip opinion:
We granted this Rule 9 interlocutory appeal in this healthcare liabil[i]ty action to consider whether termination of representation by plaintiff’s prior legal counsel a few weeks before the expiration of the statute of limitations in this healthcare liability action constitutes sufficient extraordinary cause to excuse (1) plaintiff’s failure to wait at least sixty days to file the complaint after providing pre-suit notice as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121; and, (2) plaintiff’s failure to file a Certificate of Good Faith with the complaint as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-122. We find and hold that the Trial Court did not err in finding and holding that termination of representation by plaintiff’s prior legal counsel a few weeks before the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations does constitute the type of extraordinary cause sufficient to excuse plaintiff’s failure to comply with Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 29-26-121 and 29-26-122. We, therefore, affirm the Trial Court’s orders denying the motions to dismiss.
Here is a link to the slip opinion:


NOTE: the phrase "extraordinary cause" is required in some instances under our medical negligence law in Tennessee.  However, that phrase is not defined by statute, which is why this opinion helps shed some light on what the phrase actually means.  As such, this is a must-read opinion for any lawyer who handles health care liability (f.k.a. medical malpractice) case.  

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