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Kaddoura v. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

April 27, 2015

BASHAR F. KADDOURA
v.
CHATTANOOGA-HAMILTON COUNTY HOSPITAL AUTHORITY D/B/A ERLANGER MEDICAL CENTER

Session Date January 13, 2015

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hamilton County No. 13C808 Jacqueline Schulten Bolton, Judge

Richard Korsakov, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bashar F. Kaddoura.

Arthur P. Brock and Drew H. Reynolds, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority d/b/a Erlanger Medical Center.

Thomas R. Frierson, II, delivered the opinion of the court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr., C.J., and John W. McClarty, J., joined.

OPINION

THOMAS R. FRIERSON, II, JUDGE

I. Factual and Procedural Background

The facts underlying this action are essentially undisputed. The plaintiff, Bashar F. Kaddoura, underwent bariatric surgery at the defendant facility, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority d/b/a Erlanger Medical Center ("Erlanger"), on April 27, 2010. Believing that the procedure would not be covered by his health care insurance, Golden Rule Insurance Company ("Golden Rule"), Mr. Kaddoura had paid Erlanger $6, 720.00 in advance. Mr. Kaddoura experienced complications following the surgery and required a second procedure to repair two broken abdominal wall hernia sutures on April 30, 2010. Thereafter, Mr. Kaddoura recovered without further complications and was discharged from Erlanger on May 2, 2010.

Erlanger submitted total charges in the amount of $32, 364.00 to Golden Rule for procedures and related hospital care. After disallowing one charge of $27.00, Golden Rule paid $22, 187.34 to Erlanger on or about March 4, 2011. It is undisputed that Erlanger subsequently "sued" Mr. Kaddoura on August 22, 2012, alleging that he owed Erlanger $2, 549.31 plus attorney's fees and court costs.[1]

On June 17, 2013, Mr. Kaddoura filed a complaint against Erlanger, alleging breach of contract, negligence, money had and received, and unjust enrichment. He requested damages in the amount of $22, 187.34, the amount previously paid to Erlanger by Golden Rule. On July 19, 2013, Erlanger filed a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(6) motion to dismiss, to which Mr. Kaddoura subsequently filed a response.

Following a hearing conducted on August 5, 2013, the trial court dismissed Mr. Kaddoura's action, finding that it was a "health care liability action" and that Mr. Kaddoura had failed to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121 (Supp. 2010) (requiring sixty days' notice to defendants prior to filing the complaint) and -122 (requiring the filing of a certificate of good faith with the complaint).[2] The court further found that Mr. Kaddoura's action was time-barred pursuant to the one-year statute of limitations applicable to tort actions against governmental entities pursuant to the Governmental Tort Liability Act ("GTLA"). See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-305(b) (2012). The trial court entered an order to this effect on August 28, 2013.

Four weeks later on September 26, 2013, Mr. Kaddoura concomitantly filed a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 59.04 motion to alter or amend the judgment and a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.01 motion requesting leave to amend the original complaint. Erlanger subsequently filed a response to these motions. On October 17, 2013, the trial court entered an order denying Mr. Kaddoura's motion to alter or amend the previous order but granting his motion to amend the complaint. Mr. Kaddoura timely appealed the trial court's denial of his motion to alter or amend the order dismissing his complaint. On appeal, Erlanger raises the issue of whether the trial court erred by simultaneously upholding its dismissal of the original complaint while granting Mr. Kaddoura leave to amend the complaint.

II. Issues Presented

Other than stated "issues" related to the applicable standard of review, which is not in question, Mr. Kaddoura presents one issue on appeal, which we restate as follows:

1. Whether Mr. Kaddoura's complaint stated facts that, taken as true, alleged one or more claims for relief other than those sounding in medical malpractice or health care liability, and if so, whether the trial court erred by granting Erlanger's Rule 12.02(6) motion to dismiss.

Erlanger presents an additional issue on appeal, which we restate slightly:

2. Whether the trial court erred by granting Mr. Kaddoura's motion for leave to ...

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