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Friday, January 21, 2022

Tennessee Court of Appeals Reverses Trial Court's Grant of Summary Judgment to the Defense Because the Trial Court Did Not Support Its Ruling as Required by Applicable Law

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently released its decision in Boyd v. Gibson, No. W2020-01305-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 10, 2022).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

This is a lawsuit that challenges the appropriateness of care received by a cancer patient. Plaintiff originally filed suit in January 2018 and asserted a number of claims, some of which were predicated on alleged conduct occurring as early as August 2014. In an amended complaint, Plaintiff expanded her allegations, taking issue with conduct occurring as late as September 2016. The trial court ultimately dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint in toto as it concerned the Defendants at issue in this appeal. Due to a lack of clarity regarding the court’s specific bases for dismissal with respect to each of the claims involved, we vacate the judgment and remand for further consideration and findings. 

Here is a link to the opinion: 

https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/boydlisaopn1.pdf.

NOTE: This case offers a great analysis of what a trial court must do in granting summary judgment (in a health care liability action (f/k/a medical malpractice case)). This is a must-read decision for any lawyer dealing with summary judgment under Tennessee substantive law.    

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Tennessee Supreme Court Holds that Tennessee's Health Care Liability Act Applies to Medical Battery and Intentional Misrepresentation Claims Against Health Care Providers for Injuries Arising from Surgical Procedures

The Tennessee Supreme Court has released its opinion in Copper v. Mandy, No. M2019-01748-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Jan. 20, 2022). The syllabus form the slip opinion reads:
The issue presented in this interlocutory appeal is whether the Health Care Liability Act, Tennessee Code Annotated sections 29-26-101 to -122, applies to medical battery and intentional misrepresentation claims against health care providers for injuries arising from a surgical procedure. The defendant doctor told the plaintiff he was an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon, and the plaintiff consented to surgery. But the doctor was not a board-certified plastic surgeon, and the surgery did not go well. The plaintiff and her husband sued the doctor and his medical practice for her injuries, alleging medical battery and intentional misrepresentation. The defendants moved to dismiss because the plaintiffs had not complied with the pre-suit notice and filing requirements of the Health Care Liability Act. The plaintiffs, conceding their noncompliance, argued the Act did not apply to their medical battery and intentional misrepresentation claims. The trial court agreed with the plaintiffs, ruling that the defendants’ misrepresentations were made before any health care services were rendered and thus did not relate to the provision of health care services. On interlocutory review, the Court of Appeals affirmed. We reverse and hold that the Health Care Liability Act applies to the plaintiffs’ claims. The Act broadly defines a “health care liability action” to include claims alleging that a health care provider caused an injury that related to the provision of health care services, regardless of the theory of liability. Based on the allegations in the complaint, the plaintiffs’ medical battery and intentional misrepresentation claims fall within the definition of a “health care liability action” under the Act. We remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 
Here is a link to the opinion: 


NOTE: This decision is a reminder of how broad the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act is; this decision is also a cautionary tale that must be read by any lawyer who handles health care liability actions under Tennessee law.  

This post relates to my December 15, 2020-post that can be found at this link: 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Tennessee Supreme Court Upholds Dismissal of Spouse's Loss of Consortium Claim in the Claims Commission Because Notice of It Was Not Submitted Before Complaint Was Filed as Required by Statute

The Tennessee Supreme Court has released its opinion in Kampmeyer v. State, No. M2019-01196-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Jan. 13, 2022).  The slip opinion reads:
This case involves claims against the State of Tennessee asserted by a husband and wife. The claimant husband suffered injuries when his car collided with a Tennessee state vehicle parked in the roadway. He gave written notice of his claim to the Tennessee Division of Claims and Risk Management. The Division did not resolve it, so the Division transferred the claim to the Tennessee Claims Commission. The husband and wife then filed a complaint with the Claims Commission. The complaint contained a loss of consortium claim by the wife that was not in the written notice the husband gave to the Division of Claims and Risk Management. The Claims Commission complaint was filed within the applicable one-year statute of limitations. The Claims Commission granted the State’s motion to dismiss the wife’s loss of consortium claim as time-barred because she did not give the Division of Claims and Risk Management written notice of her claim within the limitations period. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The claimants appeal, relying on the holding in Hunter v. State, No. 01-A-01-9210-BC00425, 1993 WL 133240 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 28, 1993), that a complaint filed with the Claims Commission within the statute of limitations fulfills the requirement in Tennessee Code Annotated § 9-8-402(a)(1) that claimants give timely written notice of their claim against the State to the Division of Claims and Risk Management. We reject this argument, overrule Hunter v. State, and affirm the Claims Commission’s dismissal of the wife’s claim for loss of consortium
Here is a link to the opinion:


NOTE: This decision offers a good reminder of the importance of properly presenting a claim to the Tennessee Division of Claims and Risk Management when it comes to a spouse's loss of consortium claim.  Although such a claim is derivative of the injured spouse's claim, it must still be presented for presuit review just like the injured spouse's personal injury claim; if it is not, it will be subject to dismissal due to failure to comply with the statute,  


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Trial Court's Grant of Summary Judgment to Defense Upheld on Appeal Due to Plaintiff's Counsel's Lack of Due Diligence in Suing the Correct Entity in a Timely Fashion

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has issued its opinion in Bodine v. Long John Silver's, LLC, No. M2021-00168-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 14, 2022). The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

This is a lawsuit that challenges the appropriateness of care received by a cancer patient. Plaintiff originally filed suit in January 2018 and asserted a number of claims, some of which were predicated on alleged conduct occurring as early as August 2014. In an amended complaint, Plaintiff expanded her allegations, taking issue with conduct occurring as late as September 2016. The trial court ultimately dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint in toto as it concerned the Defendants at issue in this appeal. Due to a lack of clarity regarding the court’s specific bases for dismissal with respect to each of the claims involved, we vacate the judgment and remand for further consideration and findings.

 Here is a link to the opinion:

https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/bonnie.bodine.opn_.pdf.

NOTE: There is a lot going on in this opinion. However, this is a must-read decision for any lawyer who seeks to amend a complaint to bring someone in as a party-defendant under Rule 15.03 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure after the statute of limitations has run. Read it as a cautionary tale.    


Thursday, January 06, 2022

Summary Judgment for Defense in a Premises Liability Case Reversed on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has released its opinion in Biggs v. Town of Nolensville, No. M2021-00397-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 5. 2022).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

This is an appeal from a governmental tort liability [act (GTLA)] case in which the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant governmental entity on the basis that it retained its immunity. Plaintiffs now appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. Specifically, plaintiffs contend that the trial court failed to consider their expert affidavit. On appeal, we reverse the trial court’s entry of summary judgment and remand for further proceedings.

Here is a link to that opinion:

https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/biggs.opn_.pdf.

NOTE: This is the correct decision; not sure why the trial court granted summary judgment in this one.  This opinion offers a good analysis of summary judgment along with premises liability in a GTLA case.  It is a must-read opinion for anyone handling this kind of case.  


 

Trial Court's Finding that No Underinsured Coverage Was Available to Plaintiff Is Upheld on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has issued released its opinion in Hughes v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. E2020-00225-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 30, 2021).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

The driver of a vehicle covered by a general automobile liability policy notified the insurance carrier of a potential uninsured motorist [(UM)] claim. The insurance carrier responded that the named insured had rejected in writing uninsured motorist coverage for vehicles in use in Tennessee. The driver claimed that the prior rejection was no longer effective because the named insured had submitted a new application during the renewal process. After a bench trial, the court ruled that the policy did not include uninsured motorist coverage. We conclude that the prior written rejection remained in effect when the policy was renewed. And because the named insured did not submit a new application in connection with the renewal transaction, we affirm. 

Here is a link to that opinion:

https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/hughes_v._liberty_mutual_fire_insurance_opinion_unsigned.pdf.

NOTE: There is oftentimes a battle as to whether there is UM coverage at the time of a collision that causes personal injuries.  This opinion offers a good explanation as to when UM coverage is in fact available under Tennessee law.  

Summary Judgment for Defense in a Personal Injury Action Upheld on Appeal

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has released its opinion in Malone v. Viele, No. E2021-00637-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 27, 2021). The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:  

This is a negligence case arising out of an injury suffered by the plaintiff when he fell off a ladder at the defendant’s cabin which was then under construction. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, holding that there was no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the plaintiff’s evidence was insufficient to establish his claim. The plaintiff appeals. We conclude that there is no dispute of material fact and that summary judgment in favor of the defendant was properly granted. Accordingly, we affirm.

Here is a link to that opinion: 

https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/malone_v._viele_opinion_e2021-637-coa_unsigned_opinion.pdf.

NOTE: This opinion offers up a good analysis of Tennessee summary judgment practice.  It is worth reading in my opinion.