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Friday, May 29, 2015

New Tennessee Supreme Court Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Trial Court's Ruling, Which Allowed Plaintiff to Nonsuit the Case Without Prejudice, Upheld on Appeal

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued its opinion today in Davis v. Ibach, No. W2013-02514-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Mar. 29, 2015).  The summary from the slip opinion states as follows:
The Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against the Defendants. Following the Defendants' motions to dismiss the action, asserting that the certificate of good faith was noncompliant with the requirement in Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-122(d)(4) (Supp. 2008), the trial court granted the Plaintiff's request to voluntarily dismiss the action. The Defendants appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the trial court. We granted review to determine whether the requirement of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-122(d)(4) that a certificate of good faith filed in a medical malpractice action disclose the number of prior violations of the statute by the executing party also requires disclosure of the absence of any prior violations of the statute. We hold that it does not. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.
Here's a link to the opinion:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion on Informed Consent

The Tennessee Supreme Court just issued its opinion in White v. Beeks, No. E2012-02443-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. May 18, 2015).  The summary from the slip opinion states as follows:
The issue in this health care informed consent case is whether the trial court erred by limiting the testimony of plaintiff patient’s expert witness regarding the risks that the defendant doctor was required to disclose to obtain the patient’s informed consent for surgery. The doctor performed a spinal fusion on the patient. His back pain initially improved, but subsequently worsened. The patient sued the doctor, claiming his back pain was caused by nerve compression due to ectopic bone growth at the site of the fusion. The patient alleged that the doctor failed to give him adequate information to enable him to give an informed consent to the surgery. In a pretrial deposition, the patient’s expert testified that to obtain informed consent, the doctor was required to advise the patient that he would use a bone-grafting protein and inform the patient about all the potential risks arising from its use, including risks that allegedly caused harm and risks that did not cause harm. The trial court granted the doctor’s motion to limit the patient’s expert witness testimony to only those risks that allegedly materialized and injured the patient. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the doctor. In a divided opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s exclusion of the expert medical testimony. We hold that the trial court erred by excluding expert testimony regarding undisclosed medical risks that had not materialized. Because this error, more probably than not, influenced the jury’s verdict, the patient is awarded a new trial.
Here is a link to the opinion:

NOTE: This is a must-read opinion for any lawyer who has a case with an informed-consent element that is to be decided under Tennessee law.

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Case Dismissed Due to Noncompliance with Onerous and Unfair Presuit Notice Requirements

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently issued its opinion in Harmon v. Shore, No. M2014-01339-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 23, 2015).  The summary from the opinion states as follows:
This is a Health Care Liability case. Appellees are the treating physician and hospital. The trial court granted Appellees‟ Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02 motions to dismiss Appellant‟s lawsuit for failure to comply with the Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) notice provision for health care liability claims. Specifically, the trial court determined that the required Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) medical authorization provided by Appellant was not substantially compliant with the statutory requirements in that the relevant medical records were released only to Appellant‟s lawyer. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.
Here is a link to the opinion: