Supreme Court Rules Plaintiff Has Additional Time to Refile Lawsuit After Voluntary Dismissal

December 12, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that a suit voluntarily dismissed before a change in the law then filed again after the new law goes into effect can follow the extended deadlines provided for in the new law.

In this case, Hong Samouth Rajvongs filed a lawsuit in Rutherford County against his doctor. After he filed his lawsuit, Tennessee law was changed to require plaintiffs to give at least 60 days' notice of their claims to their health care providers before filing a lawsuit. When that notice is provided, plaintiffs have an additional 120 days to file their lawsuits.

Rajvongs voluntarily dismissed his first lawsuit. Nearly one year later, Rajvongs provided his doctor with notice of his repeated claim to satisfy the new notice requirement. Rajvongs then refiled his lawsuit within 120 days after the expiration of the one-year deadline for refiling a lawsuit after a voluntary dismissal.

The Court said plaintiffs who filed their original lawsuits before the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act was changed to require pre-suit notice of a claim, then dismissed their original actions, gave proper pre-suit notice, and refiled their lawsuits under the Act’s new notice requirement are entitled to an additional 120 days in which to refile their lawsuits.

The Court returned the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

Read the unanimous opinion in Hong Samouth (Sam) Rajvongs v. Dr. Anthony Wright, authored by Justice Janice M. Holder, in the Opinions section.