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Lacy v. HCA Health Service of TN, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 10, 2017

DEBORAH LACY
v.
HCA HEALTH SERVICE OF TN, INC., ETAL.

          Session Date February 22, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 14C4642 Thomas W. Brothers, Judge

         Plaintiff appeals the dismissal of her case and the award of sanctions against her. The trial court dismissed the action for failure of Plaintiff to comply with the pre-suit notice and certificate of good faith requirements of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act. Plaintiff also argues that the trial court engaged in judicial misconduct. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the judgment as modified.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed, as Modified.

          Deborah Lacy, Madison, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Alan S. Bean and Kaycee L. Weeter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, HCA Health Services of Tennessee, Inc. d/b/a TriStar Centennial Medical Center.

          Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which W. Neal McBrayer and Brandon O. Gibson, JJ., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On October 31, 2014, Deborah Lacy ("Ms. Lacy") filed suit against HCA Health Services of Tennessee, Inc., Centennial Hospital ("Centennial") and CT Corporation System, [2] to recover damages of $400, 000, asserting that employees of the defendants "committed the offense of assault and battery." Centennial moved for a more definite statement, which was granted, and Ms. Lacy filed an Amended Complaint, alleging that on October 31, 2013, when she was in the process of undergoing a surgical procedure at the hospital, she was assaulted and battered by several unnamed employees of Centennial, [3] and that the defendants failed to keep her safe, violated her human and civil rights, and placed her under "fear and duress." Centennial moved to dismiss Ms. Lacy's complaint for failure to comply with the pre-suit notice and certificate of good faith requirements at Tennessee Code Annotated sections 29-26-121 and -122; Centennial also moved for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11.03 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, seeking reimbursement for attorney's fees and related costs incurred in responding to Ms. Lacy's pleadings. The court dismissed the healthcare liability claims and allowed the non-medical assault and battery claims to proceed; with respect to those claims, the court held that "[t]o the extent discovery establishes that these remaining claims are actually claims related to the provision of health services, the Defendant is not precluded from renewing this motion on any of these remaining claims."

         Following discovery, Centennial moved for summary judgment on the remaining claims, supported by a statement of undisputed facts and the affidavit of Charlene Gableman, a registered nurse who had been identified in the course of discovery by Ms. Lacy as a person who provided care to her on October 31, 2013. The court granted summary judgment to Defendant on the claims of false imprisonment, civil rights violations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress and denied summary judgment with respect to the assault claims; the court permitted Defendant to file a renewed motion to dismiss the assault claims for failure to comply with the healthcare liability act.[4]Defendants subsequently renewed their motions to dismiss and for sanctions; the court granted both motions, awarding sanctions in the amount of $40, 566.00.

         Ms. Lacy appeals. The specific issues as stated in her brief are unintelligible; she contends generally that the trial court erred in granting the motions to dismiss and for summary judgment. She also argues that the court engaged in judicial misconduct by excluding certain evidence favoring the defendants, in awarding sanctions, and in intimidating her.

         Centennial argues on appeal that the court should reverse the denial of its motion for summary judgment as to Ms. Lacy's assault claims.

         II. ...


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