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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.  

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