Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Grizzle v. Center

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

July 25, 2017

BETTY J. GRIZZLE
v.
PARKWEST MEDICAL CENTER

          Session: April 18, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Knox County No. 3-33-16 Deborah C. Stevens, Judge

         The plaintiff initiated this health care liability action on January 25, 2016. The defendant medical provider filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the plaintiff had failed to attach the documentation required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(b) to demonstrate that proper pre-suit notice had been transmitted. The defendant also asserted that the plaintiff's claims should be dismissed for failure to substantially comply with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) regarding a medical authorization compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA"). While noting that the plaintiff had substantially complied with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(4) and (b), the trial court found that the medical authorization forwarded by the plaintiff was incomplete and failed to comply with HIPAA's release requirements. The trial court therefore dismissed the plaintiff's claims. The plaintiff has timely appealed. We affirm the trial court's determination that the plaintiff substantially complied with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(4) and (b). We reverse, however, the trial court's determination that the plaintiff's claims should be dismissed for failure to substantially comply with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E).

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part; Case Remanded

          H. Franklin Chancey, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Betty J. Grizzle.

          Broderick L. Young and F. Michael Fitzpatrick, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Parkwest Medical Center.

          Thomas R. Frierson, II, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., and J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., joined.

          OPINION

          THOMAS R. FRIERSON, II, JUDGE.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The plaintiff, Betty J. Grizzle, underwent total hip replacement surgery at Parkwest Medical Center ("Parkwest") on or about November 4, 2014. Ms. Grizzle awoke from her surgery experiencing severe chest pain. When Ms. Grizzle complained to the hospital staff about this pain, hospital staff performed an x-ray. The x-ray confirmed that Ms. Grizzle was suffering from broken ribs. Ms. Grizzle was apparently provided no explanation as to how the injury to her ribs had occurred.

         On January 25, 2016, Ms. Grizzle filed a health care liability action against Parkwest in the Knox County Circuit Court ("trial court"). In her complaint, Ms. Grizzle specifically averred that she had complied with the pre-suit notice requirements found in Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121. Despite such averment, Ms. Grizzle did not provide the requisite documentation with her complaint establishing proof of pre-suit notice. Ms. Grizzle did, however, file the certificate of good faith required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-122.

         Parkwest subsequently filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Ms. Grizzle had failed to attach to her complaint the documentation required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(4) and (b). Parkwest further asserted that the medical authorization provided with Ms. Grizzle's pre-suit notice was not HIPAA compliant. Parkwest attached a copy of the medical authorization that had accompanied the pre-suit notice, demonstrating that certain blanks on the form had not been filled, including the name of the medical provider and the treatment dates. Parkwest did not dispute, however, that Ms. Grizzle transmitted pre-suit notice.

         Ms. Grizzle subsequently provided a "notice of filing" on March 14, 2016, attaching copies of the pre-suit notice letter and allegedly HIPAA-compliant authorization sent to Parkwest. Ms. Grizzle did not file the affidavit required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(4). On April 8, 2016, the trial court conducted a hearing regarding Parkwest's motion to dismiss. The court subsequently entered an order on April 29, 2016, dismissing Ms. Grizzle's claims. The court first determined that Ms. Grizzle had substantially complied with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(4) and (b), despite the lack of an affidavit. However, the court also determined that Ms. Grizzle had failed to fulfill the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) because the medical authorization provided by Ms. Grizzle was not HIPAA compliant. The court specifically found that the authorization contained a number of spaces for information that remained blank, including the spaces for the name of the medical provider to whom the authorization was directed and for Ms. Grizzle's treatment dates. The court relied upon this Court's decision in Bray v. Khuri in determining that Ms. Grizzle's medical authorization did not comply with HIPAA's requirements. See Bray v. Khuri, No. W2015-00397-COA-R3-CV, 2015 WL 7775316, at *4 (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 3, 2015), rev'd by Bray v. Khuri, ___ S.W.3d ___, No. W2015-00397-SC-R11-CV, 2017 WL 2856697 (Tenn. July 5, 2017). The trial court thereby dismissed Ms. Grizzle's complaint pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121. Ms. Grizzle timely appealed.

         II. Issues Presented

         Ms. Grizzle presents one issue for our review, which we have restated slightly:

1. Whether the trial court erred by dismissing Ms. Grizzle's action based upon her failure to substantially comply with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) regarding a HIPAA-compliant medical release.

         Parkwest raises the following additional issue, which we have also restated slightly:

2. Whether the trial court erred by determining that Ms. Grizzle substantially complied with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(4) and (b) regarding the filing of documentation establishing that proper pre-suit notice was provided.

         III. Standard of Review

         Our Supreme Court has elucidated the following regarding the standard of review applicable to a motion to dismiss a health care liability action based upon the plaintiff's noncompliance with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121:

The proper way for a defendant to challenge a complaint's compliance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121 and Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-122 is to file a Tennessee Rule of Procedure 12.02 motion to dismiss. In the motion, the defendant should state how the plaintiff has failed to comply with the statutory requirements by referencing specific omissions in the complaint and/or by submitting affidavits or other proof. Once the defendant makes a properly supported motion under this rule, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show either that it complied with the statutes or that it had extraordinary cause for failing to do so. Based on the complaint and any other relevant evidence submitted by the parties, the trial court must determine whether the plaintiff has complied with the statutes. If the trial court determines that the plaintiff has not complied with the statutes, then the trial court may consider whether the plaintiff has demonstrated extraordinary cause for its noncompliance. If the defendant prevails and the complaint is dismissed, the plaintiff is entitled to an appeal of right under Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3 using the standards of review in Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 13. If the plaintiff prevails, the defendant may pursue an interlocutory appeal under either Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9 or 10 using the same standards.
Because the trial court's denial of the Defendants' motion involves a question of law, our review is de novo with no presumption of correctness. Graham v. Caples, 325 S.W.3d 578, 581 (Tenn. 2010). . . . We examine the legal sufficiency of the complaint and do not consider the strength of the plaintiff's evidence; thus, all factual allegations in the complaint are accepted as true and construed in favor of the plaintiff. Lind v. Beaman Dodge, Inc., 356 S.W.3d 889, 894 (Tenn. 2011).
The leading rule governing our construction of any statute is to ascertain and give effect to the legislature's intent. Walker v. Sunrise Pontiac-GMC Truck, Inc., 249 S.W.3d 301, 309 (Tenn. 2008). To that end, we start with an examination of the statute's language, Curtis v. G.E. Capital Modular Space,155 S.W.3d 877, 881 (Tenn. 2005), presuming that the legislature intended that each word be given full effect. Lanier v. Rains,229 S.W.3d 656, 661 (Tenn. 2007). When the import of a statute is unambiguous, we discern legislative intent "from the natural and ordinary meaning of the statutory language within the context of the entire statute without any forced or subtle construction that would extend or limit the statute's meaning." State v. Flemming, 19 S.W.3d 195, 197 (Tenn. 2000); see also In re Adoption of A.M.H.,215 S.W.3d 793, 808 (Tenn. 2007) ("Where the statutory language is not ambiguous . . . the plain and ordinary meaning of the statute must be given ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.