Session October 16, 2019
from the Tennessee Claims Commission No. T20171857 William E.
filed a complaint asserting a health care liability claim
against the state and attached a certificate of good faith.
The Tennessee Claims Commission found that the certificate of
good faith failed to satisfy the requirements of Tenn. Code
Ann. § 29-26-122 because it was not specific as to the
state health care provider. Despite this finding, the court
concluded that the statute was satisfied because the
complaint contained the certificate of good faith language
and identified the state health care provider. The state then
filed this interlocutory appeal. We reverse.
R. App. P. 9 Interlocutory Appeal; Judgment of the Claims
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter,
Andrée Blumstein, Solicitor General, and Heather C.
Ross, Senior Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant,
State of Tennessee.
Michael Emory Large, Bristol, Tennessee, for the appellee,
D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
John W. McClarty and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.
D. BENNETT, JUDGE
Factual and Procedural Background
Dotson gave birth to a baby on June 1, 2016. Tragically, the
baby died the following day from complications during the
delivery. On May 26, 2017, Ms. Dotson filed a claim for
damages against the state of Tennessee in the Division of
Claims Administration. She based her claim against the state
on the actions of one of her treating physicians during the
delivery, Dr. Kiana Brooks, a resident physician and state
August 25, 2017, the Division of Claims Administration
notified Ms. Dotson that it had not been able to act on her
claim within ninety days so her claim was being transferred
to the Claims Commission. The clerk of the Claims Commission
informed Ms. Dotson on September 6, 2017, that she must file
a complaint with the Claims Commission "within thirty
days of transfer of any claim to the
Commission." Ms. Dotson filed her complaint with a
certificate of good faith on October 6, 2017, alleging that
Dr. Brooks's negligence caused the death of her baby. She
also alleged the negligence of other non-state employee
health care providers whom she had sued in a separate lawsuit
in Washington County Law Court: Dr. Selman Welt and a private
hospital. Throughout her complaint, Ms. Dotson refers to Dr.
Welt and the private hospital as "The Defendants."
certificate of good faith Ms. Dotson filed with her complaint
in the Claims Commission contains the caption of the lawsuit
she filed in the Washington County court. Ms. Dotson
identified Dr. Welt and the private hospital in the
certificate of good faith, but she made no mention of Dr.
Brooks. In addition to filing a certificate of good faith,
Ms. Dotson stated in the complaint as follows:
22. Plaintiff's counsel has also consulted with one (1)
or more experts who have provided a signed, written statement
confirming that upon information and belief they: (a) Are
competent under Section 29-26-115 to express opinion(s) in
this case; and (b) Believe, based upon the information
available from the medical records concerning the care and
treatment of the Plaintiff for the incident(s) at issue, that