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Foster v. Chiles

Supreme Court of Tennessee, Knoxville

January 27, 2015

SAMUEL E. FOSTER ET AL.
v.
WALTER WILLIAM CHILES, III, M.D. ET AL

Session September 4, 2014

Tenn. R. App. P. 11 Appeal by Permission; Judgment of the Court of Appeals Reversed; Case Dismissed. Appeal by Permission from the Court of Appeals, Eastern Section Circuit Court for Knox County. No. 122712. Dale C. Workman, Judge.

Judgment of the Court of Appeals Reversed; Case Dismissed.

Stephen C. Daves, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Walter William Chiles, III, M.D., and Knoxville Urology Clinic, P.C.

Edward G. White, II, and B. Chase Kibler, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Gordon Lee Collins, M.D., and Anesthesia Medical Alliance of East Tennessee, P.C.

F. Michael Fitzpatrick and Rachel Park Hurt, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Covenant Health and Parkwest Medical Center.

John D. Agee and Bradley D. Williams, Clinton, Tennessee, for the appellees, Samuel E. Foster and Mary Foster.

SHARON G. LEE, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which CORNELIA A. CLARK, JEFFREY S. BIVINS, and HOLLY KIRBY, JJ., joined. GARY R. WADE, J., filed a separate dissenting opinion.

OPINION

SHARON G. LEE, J.

Page 912

This appeal presents two issues for review: 1) whether a person asserting a health care liability claim must give written notice of the claim to all potential health care defendants before re-filing a complaint, or whether notice given before filing the first complaint is sufficient notice for a subsequently filed complaint against the same defendants; and 2) if pre-suit notice is required for each complaint, whether the sanction for noncompliance is a dismissal with or without prejudice. The plaintiffs, before filing their health care liability complaint, gave the defendants written notice under Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1). Thereafter, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their complaint. The plaintiffs re-filed their complaint but did not provide the defendants with notice before the re-filing. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice for failure to comply with the notice requirement of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1). The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the plaintiffs had to give pre-suit notice only once and that pre-suit notice for the first complaint was sufficient for any subsequently filed complaints asserting the same claims against the same defendants. We hold that Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1)

Page 913

requires that plaintiffs notify prospective defendants of a forthcoming health care liability lawsuit before the filing of each complaint. The sanction for failure to comply with Tenn. Code Ann. ...


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