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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Trial Court Upheld on Appeal; Tennessee Health Care Liability Act Does Not Apply to Claims for Intentional Misrepresentation, Medical Batter, Civil Conspiracy, Loss of Consortium

Last month, the Tennessee Court of Appeals released its decision in Cooper v. Mandy, No. M2019-01748-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 17, 2020).  The slip opinion reads:

The principal issue in this interlocutory appeal is whether intentional misrepresentations made by health care providers to induce a prospective patient to engage the health care providers’ services are within the purview of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act (“the Act”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-101 to -122. The complaint filed by the patient, Donna Cooper (“Mrs. Cooper”), and her husband alleges that Dr. Mason Wesley Mandy (“Dr. Mandy”) and Rachelle Norris (“Ms. Norris”) with NuBody Concepts, LLC, intentionally misrepresented that Dr. Mandy was a board-certified plastic surgeon and, based on their misrepresentation, Mrs. Cooper gave Dr. Mandy her consent to perform the surgery. Following “painful, disastrous results,” the plaintiffs asserted four claims: (1) intentional misrepresentation; (2) medical battery; (3) civil conspiracy; and (4) loss of consortium. Defendants filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12 motion to dismiss for failure to comply with the presuit notice and filing requirements of the Act, specifically Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 29-26-121 and -122. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, finding the Act did not apply. This interlocutory appeal followed. We hold that Mrs. Cooper is entitled to proceed on her claims of intentional misrepresentation and civil conspiracy because the alleged misrepresentations were inducements made prior to the existence of a patient-physician relationship; thus, the claims were not related to “the provision of . . . health care services.” See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-101(a)(1). We also affirm its ruling on the medical battery claim because a physician’s misrepresentation of a material fact, if proven, may vitiate consent, and, without consent, the very act of touching Mrs. Cooper may constitute an unlawful and offensive act that is not related to the provision of health care services. See Holt v. Alexander, No. W2003-02541-COA-R3-CV, 2005 WL 94370, at *6 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 13, 2005). Further, we affirm the trial court’s ruling on Mr. Cooper’s claim for loss of consortium because, as the trial court held, his claims relate to Dr. Mandy’s and Ms. Norris’s false representations of Dr. Mandy’s credentials, not to a provision of, or a failure to provide, a health care service. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court in all respects and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Here is a link to that opinion:

http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/cooper.donna_.opn_.pdf.

NOTE: This opinion delves into the torts of intentional misrepresentation, medical batter, and civil conspiracy; it also touches upon claims for loss of consortium.  It is a must-read decision for any lawyer whose practice is affected by Tennessee substantive law.  

Also, look for the defendants to ask SCOTN to take a look at this case.  

Saturday, December 12, 2020

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Summary Judgment for Defendant Reversed Because Plaintiff Demonstrated That There Was a Genuine Issue of Material Fact as to the Applicable Standard of Care, Its Breach, and Causation; Intervening and Superseding Cause Does Not Exist at Present

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently released its decision in Davis v. Ellis, No. W2019-01367-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 5, 2020).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

This is a health care liability case. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee/doctor finding that Appellant’s expert witness failed to connect the decedent’s death to Appellee’s alleged deviation from the standard of care. We conclude that Appellant presented sufficient evidence, at the summary judgment stage, to create a dispute of fact concerning deviation from the standard of care and causation. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. 

Here is a link to the decision:

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

NOTE: This is a must-read opinion for any lawyer who practices in the area of health care liability (f.k.a., medical malpractice) where the case is governed by Tennessee substantive law.  It addresses expert testimony as to the applicable standard of care, causation of injury, and intervening-superseding causes, which makes it a great primer for a new lawyer and a great refresher for the seasoned practitioner.    

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

New Opinion on the Discovery Rule and Governmental Tort Liability Under Tennessee Substantive Law

Today, the Tennessee Court of Appeals released its decision in Durham v. Estate of Losleben, No. W2019-01623-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 8, 2020).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

A Hardin County firefighter and Appellant’s husband died after their vehicles collided. Appellant alleged that the firefighter had negligently caused the accident, and thus filed tort claims against Hardin County under a theory of vicarious liability and Tennessee’s Governmental Tort Liability Act. She filed her claims more than one year after the accident, so the trial court dismissed them as barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations. She appeals, and we affirm.

Here is a link to the slip opinion:

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

NOTE: Among other things, this opinion explains the discovery rule and how it affects the running of the one-year statute of limitations in tort actions, especially in civil actions under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Act (GTLA).  This decision reaffirms the application of the discovery rule to GTLA cases, but holds that it did not apply under the facts presented herein.  This is a very informative read in my humble opinion.  


Monday, December 07, 2020

New Case on Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Amended Pleadings

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released it decision in Evans v. Croxdale, No. E2019-01880-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 2, 2020).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads: 

This appeal concerns the trial court’s summary judgment dismissal of the plaintiff’s uninsured motorist insurance claim filed against his employer following a car accident. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Here is a link to the slip opinion:

http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/kevin_e_evans_et_al_v._ricki_k._croxdale_et_al..pdf.

NOTE: This is a pretty straight forward opinion.  It offers quick guidance on uninsured motorist claims and amended pleading under Tennessee law.