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Thursday, May 28, 2020

New Tennessee Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Damage Cap Held to Apply to Each Plaintiff, Etc.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released its decision today in Yebuah v. Center for Urological Treatment, PLC, No. M2018-01652-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 28, 2020).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:
Following surgery to remove a cancerous kidney, part of a gelport device was left inside the patient. The patient and her husband brought this health care liability action against multiple defendants, including the surgeon who removed the kidney and the radiologist who initially failed to detect the foreign object. The defendants admitted fault, so the trial focused solely on causation and damages. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $4 million in noneconomic damages to the patient for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life and $500,000 in noneconomic damages to her husband for loss of consortium. The trial court initially applied the statutory cap on noneconomic damages to the total damages award and entered a judgment of $750,000 in favor of both plaintiffs. In response to the plaintiffs’ motion to alter or amend, the trial court issued a revised judgment of $750,000 in favor of the patient and $500,000 in favor of the husband. But the court refused to address the plaintiffs’ arguments premised on the constitutionality of the statutory cap, ruling that the issue had been waived. The court also denied the defendant’s motion for a new trial or for a remittitur. Upon review, we conclude that the trial court erred in refusing to consider the plaintiffs’ constitutional issue. But because we also conclude that the statutory cap on noneconomic damages is constitutional and was applied properly and that the defendant is not entitled to a new trial or a remittitur, we affirm. 
Here is a link to the slip opinion:

NOTE: This opinion must be read with McClay v. Airport Management Services, LLC, 596 S.W.3d 686 (Tenn. 2020), which is the subject of my February 26, 2020 blog post, and can be found at this link:

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