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Saturday, December 14, 2019

New Health Care Liability Action: Case Remanded Because Order Was Not Final; Trial Court Sanctions Plaintiffs' Counsel

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released its opinion in Ibsen v. Summit View of Farragut, LLC, No. E2018-01249-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 11, 2019).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads as follows:
In this healthcare liability action, the defendants filed a motion for a qualified protective order allowing them to conduct ex parte interviews with some of the plaintiffs’ treating healthcare providers pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. [sec.] 29-26-121(f). After the trial court granted the qualified protective order allowing the interviews, plaintiffs’ counsel wrote a letter to plaintiffs’ treating providers concerning the interviews. The defendants then filed a joint motion for sanctions asserting that the letters sent by plaintiffs’ counsel violated the trial court’s order by attempting to prevent the treating providers from participating in the interviews. The trial court granted monetary sanctions against the plaintiffs and their counsel and ordered plaintiffs’ counsel to send retraction letters to plaintiffs’ treating providers. The plaintiffs appeal. We have determined that the order on appeal is not a final order and, therefore, dismiss the appeal.
Here is a link to the opinion:

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

NOTE: Sending letters to treating providers like this is not uncommon or per se wrong.  See Brazier v. Crockett Hosp.No. M2004-02941-COA-R10-CV, 2006 WL 2040408, 2006 Tenn. App. LEXIS 483, at *48 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 20, 2006).  However, Brazier was decided before Tenn. Code Ann. sec. 29-26-121(f) was enacted.  Compare id. at *1 with T.C.A. § 29-26-121(f), Stat. Hist. (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance, current thought 2019 Reg. Sess.).  What got the Plaintiffs in trouble here was that the trial court specifically admonished them from doing what they did.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

New Health Care Liability Action: Trial Court's Dismissal of Plaintiffs' Case Based upon Deficient HIPAA-compliant Authorization Upheld on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently released its opinion in Moore-Pitts v. Bradley, No. No. E2018-01729-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 9, 2019).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:
This appeal concerns a healthcare liability action filed by Jennifer Moore-Pitts and David Pitts ("Plaintiffs") in the Knox County Circuit Court ("Trial Court") against Carl A. Bradley, DDS, MAGD ("Defendant"). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' action on the basis of noncompliance with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26- 121(a)(2)(E), which requires that pre-suit notice include a HIPAA-compliant medical authorization allowing the healthcare provider receiving the notice to obtain complete medical records from every other provider that is sent a notice.' Approximately forty healthcare providers, including Defendant, received pre-suit notice from Plaintiffs. On the medical authorization provided to Defendant, Plaintiffs left blank the name of the individual or entity authorized to make the disclosure of medical records to Defendant but provided an attachment of the names and addresses of the other providers receiving notice. The Trial Court found that Plaintiffs' medical authorization provided to Defendant was not sufficient to allow Defendant to obtain Ms. Moore-Pitts's medical records from the other providers who received the pre-suit notice. As such, the Trial Court found that Plaintiffs could not rely on Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(c) to extend the statute of limitations for 120 days. Because Plaintiffs' action was filed one year and 118 days after the cause of action accrued, the Trial Court determined that Plaintiffs' action was untimely. The Trial Court, therefore, granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court. 
Here is a link to the opinion: 


NOTE: Respectfully, I think this opinion was decided incorrectly, which is explained in a one of my prior posts to this blog: