An employee filed a request for assistance with the Tennessee Department of Labor after she was injured at her workplace. After approximately six months of inaction by the Department, the employee filed a complaint for workers’ compensation benefits against her employer in Marshall County Circuit Court. The employer responded with a motion to dismiss asserting that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the parties had not participated in the benefit review conference process. The trial judge did not dismiss the complaint but ordered the case to be held in abeyance pending further orders of the court. On extraordinary appeal to this Court, we hold that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction of the case because the employee did not exhaust the benefit review conference process before filing suit as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-203 (2008). The judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the employee’s complaint is dismissed without prejudice.

Attorney 1: 

Stephen W. Elliott, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, DaVita, Inc.

Attorney 2: 

Barbara G. Medley, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lacey Chapman.

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