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Lacy v. Meharry General Hospital

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

December 19, 2017

DEBORAH LACY
v.
MEHARRY GENERAL HOSPITAL ET AL.

          Session May 24, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 16C-1053 Thomas W. Brothers, Judge.

         Plaintiff sued a physician, alleging that the physician's handshake caused her injuries and that the physician failed to properly document her medical records. The trial court dismissed plaintiff's claims for failure to comply with the pre-suit notice and certificate of good faith requirements of the Health Care Liability Act. We conclude that the claim of failure to properly document plaintiff's medical records relates to the provision of, or failure to provide, health care services. Therefore, we affirm the dismissal of that claim for failure to comply with the Health Care Liability Act's procedural requirements. But we conclude the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiff's claim for injuries allegedly caused by the physician's handshake. Thus, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

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

          Deborah Lacy, Madison, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

          Sara F. Reynolds and Ashley B. Waddle, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Nagendra Ramanna.

          W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Frank G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S., and Richard H. Dinkins, J., joined.

          OPINION

          W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE.

         In this appeal, we consider whether the claims of Deborah Lacy against Dr. Nagendra Ramanna were properly dismissed for failure to comply with the procedural requirements of the Health Care Liability Act (the "Act").[1]

         I.

         On April 14, 2016, Ms. Lacy filed a complaint against Dr. Ramanna in the Circuit Court for Davidson County, Tennessee. The complaint asserted two distinct claims against him. As to the first claim, the complaint alleged that Ms. Lacy made an appointment with Dr. Ramanna, a cardiologist, "to check why she was getting so out of breath while doing her daily chores since February 11, 2015." According to the complaint, "upon entering the room . . . Plaintiff extended her right hand for the [sic] Dr. Nagendra Ramanna to shake her hand and this is when he squeezed Plaintiff [sic] fingers to [sic] hard." Ms. Lacy generally described this interaction as "a beating" or "assault." As a result, Ms. Lacy complained that her "hand is in constant pain" and "the fingers no longer have any strength." As to the second claim, Ms. Lacy alleged that Dr. Ramanna "was also in [sic] fault when he read the Sonogram and did not add it to Plaintiff Lacy [sic] Medical Records." Filed with the complaint was a certificate of good faith signed by Ms. Lacy.[2]

         In response, Dr. Ramanna filed a motion to dismiss, citing Ms. Lacy's failure to comply with the written pre-suit notice and certificate of good faith requirements under the Act. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 29-26-121 to -122 (2012 & Supp. 2017). According to Dr. Ramanna, Ms. Lacy's claims were governed by the Act because "[a]ll of the alleged events occurred during Dr. Ramanna's provision of medical care to Plaintiff."

         On July 7, 2016, the court entered an order granting Dr. Ramanna's motion and dismissing the claims against him with prejudice. The court concluded that Ms. Lacy's claims were governed by the Act. And the court found that Ms. Lacy failed to submit proof that she provided pre-suit written notice to Dr. ...


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