Tennessee Supreme Court Rules Re-Filed Malpractice Lawsuit Must Follow New State Laws

October 4, 2012

Nashville, Tenn.In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a re-filed malpractice lawsuit must follow state statutes in effect at the time of re-filing.

In 2006, Curtis Myers suffered a stroke and was treated by various healthcare providers. The next year, he filed a complaint in Shelby County Circuit Court alleging medical malpractice against healthcare providers who had treated him. The original lawsuit was pending when the state legislature enacted new requirements (Tennessee Code Annotated sections 29-26-121 and 122) related to medical malpractice actions in Tennessee. The new laws went into effect on October 1, 2008, and were amended on July 1, 2009.

On October 21, 2008, Myers dismissed his lawsuit and re-filed it on September 30, 2009. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint based on Myers’ failure to comply with the new state laws which required pre-suit notice be given to the defendants and that the plaintiff file a certificate of good faith. The trial court denied the motion ruling that the plaintiff’s original suit constituted substantial compliance with the statutes and that extraordinary cause existed to excuse compliance with the requirements of one of the statutes. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court.

Today, the Tennessee Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, ordered that the complaint be dismissed. The Court noted that the statutory requirements of providing pre-suit notice to the defendants and filing a certificate of good faith are mandatory and not subject to substantial compliance and that Myers failed to demonstrate extraordinary cause for non-compliance.

To read the Curtis Myers v. AMISUB, Inc. et al. opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, visit http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/myerscurtisopn.pdf.