JAMES T. PATTERSON
LINCOLN MEDICAL CENTER
Session February 24, 2015
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lincoln County No. 13CV132 Franklin L. Russell, Judge
Robert S. Peters, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, James T. Patterson.
Reid D. Leitner and Leighann D. Ness, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lincoln Medical Center a/k/a Lincoln County Hospital, a part of the Lincoln County Health System.
Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P. J., M. S., and Andy D. Bennett, J., joined.
RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE
I. Factual Background
On December 28, 2012, James T. Patterson was admitted to the Lincoln Medical Center, a hospital owned and operated by Lincoln County, to have a catheter inserted into his urethra. On December 23, 2013, Mr. Patterson sent the Chief Executive Officer of the Lincoln County Health System a notice of a potential claim against the hospital, as required by the Health Care Liability Act ("HCLA"), Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-101, et. seq. Four days later, on December 27, Mr. Patterson filed suit in the Circuit Court for Lincoln County under the HCLA and the Governmental Tort Liability Act ("GTLA"), Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-101, et seq., against the Lincoln County Health System d/b/a Lincoln Medical Center. In the complaint, Mr. Patterson alleged that the catheter had been negligently inserted, causing him injuries and damages.
The hospital filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that Mr. Patterson had not provided written notice of the potential claim at least 60 days prior to filing suit as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1). Mr. Patterson responded, asserting that, "as a result of a conflict" between the GTLA and the HCLA, he was"in somewhat of a dilemma" because the Tennessee Supreme Court's ruling in Cunningham v. Williamson Cnty. Hosp. Dist., 405 S.W.3d 41 (Tenn. 2013)required that his claim be filed within one year to satisfy the GTLA and that he also had to comply with the HCLA's 60-day notice requirement at Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1). The court held that Mr. Patterson had not demonstrated extraordinary cause to excuse his failure to comply with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1) and dismissed the complaint.
Plaintiff appeals, articulating the following issue:
Whether this plaintiff who has brought a health care liability action under the Health Care Liability Act ([HCLA]) against a governmental entity under the Government Tort Liability Act (GTLA) reconciled the conflict within the HCLA and the GTLA when this action was commenced within sixty days of the running on the one-year GTLA statute of limitations by providing for an extension of time for the defendant to respond to the complaint.
II. Standard of Review
The purpose of a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) motion to dismiss is to determine whether the pleadings state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Making such a determination is a question of law; therefore, our review is de novo, with no presumption of correctness. Cullum v. McCool, 432 S.W.3d 829, 832 (Tenn. 2013) (citing Webb v. Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity, 346 S.W.3d 422, 426 (Tenn. 2011)).
An exception to the requirement that plaintiff give notice 60 days before instituting suit is available where a plaintiff shows extraordinary cause for failure to comply; the question of whether extraordinary cause has been demonstrated to excuse compliance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(1) is a mixed question of law and fact, and our review of that determination is de novo with a presumption of correctness in regard to the trial court's findings of fact. Myers v. ...