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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Defense Verdict in Second Trial (Which Was Bifurcated) Upheld on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released its decision in Jernigan v. Paasche, No. No. M2020-00673-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. June 21, 2021).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

In this health care liability action, an initial jury trial resulted in a verdict for the defendant physicians. The plaintiff filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court granted. Prior to the second jury trial, the trial court determined that the trial should be bifurcated such that the first phase would address only the applicable standard of care and whether the defendants deviated therefrom, and the second phase would address causation. Following completion of the standard of care phase, the jury again ruled in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff filed a second motion for new trial, which the trial court denied. The plaintiff timely appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Here is a link to the slip opinion:

NOTE: This opinion deals with the bifurcation of issues for trial, the admission of expert witness testimony, and waiver of issues.  It is a must-read decision for any lawyer who handled health care liability actions governed by Tennessee substantive law.  

Further, I expect the Tennessee Supreme Court will be asked (via an application for permission to appeal) to review this decision.  The bifurcation below might be what gets that application granted; we shall see.   

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