Tennessee Supreme Court Rules Plaintiff Gets More Time to File Health Care Liability Lawsuit

January 29, 2014

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that a plaintiff has extra time to refile her health care liability lawsuit based on a law that took effect while her initial lawsuit was pending.

Juanita E. Good of Columbia suffered brain damage in 2005 while undergoing surgery to remove her gallbladder. Her conservator, Doris Cannon, filed a lawsuit in 2006 against Maury Regional Hospital and Dr. Bhaskar Reddy. In 2009, while the case was pending, the Tennessee General Assembly changed the law to require at least 60 days’ notice to defendants prior to the commencement of a health care liability action.

Ms. Cannon dismissed her original lawsuit in 2010 and refiled it twice in 2011 – first, two days after providing the required 60 days’ notice and again 111 days after the notice. Ms. Cannon then sought permission from the court to consolidate her refiled actions. Dr. Reddy objected and moved to dismiss both of Ms. Cannon’s actions on various grounds.

The trial court consolidated the cases, and Dr. Reddy filed an application for extraordinary appeal with the Supreme Court, which was granted. The Court ruled that Ms. Cannon was a “transitional plaintiff” because of the timing of her lawsuits and the corresponding changes in the law. As a transitional plaintiff, Ms. Cannon’s compliance with the 60-day notice requirement gave her an additional 120 days under the 2009 law to refile her health care liability lawsuit.

Read the unanimous opinion in Doris Cannon ex. rel. Juanita E. Good v. Bhaskar Reddy, M.D., authored by Justice Janice M. Holder.