Dismissal of Case Against Nursing Home is Reversed

ANNA PARKER, ADMINISTRATOR OF ESTATE OF WANDA FAYE DOBBS, DECEASED ET AL. v. PORTLAND NURSING & NURSING REHAB ET AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Deborah Truby Riordan, Little Rock, Arkansas; Cameron C. Jehl and Carey L. Acerra, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anna Parker, Administrator of the Estate of Wanda Faye Dobbs, deceased, and on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries of Wanda Faye Dobbs.

Heidi A. Barcus, Jennifer Pearson Taylor, and Ian P. Hennessey, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Portland Nursing and Rehab Center, Inc. D/b/a Highland Manor Nursing & Rehab Center, Sunbelt Health Care Centers, Inc. A/k/a Adventist Care Centers, Adventist Health System Sunbelt Healthcare Corporation, and Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc.

Judge: CLEMENT

In this action, the plaintiff has attempted to assert claims for ordinary negligence and medical malpractice against nursing home defendants by filing two separate actions and then seeking to consolidate the cases or to amend the complaint to assert both types of claims in one case. The first complaint filed only asserted claims for ordinary negligence against the nursing home defendants. Sixty days after having given the statutory notice to the healthcare providers of her intent to file medical malpractice claims, the plaintiff commenced a separate action against the same nursing home defendants and an additional defendant, a physician who treated the nursing home patient, by filing a complaint for medical malpractice. Upon motions of the nursing home defendants, the trial court refused to consolidate the cases, dismissed the medical malpractice claims against the nursing home defendants upon the ground of a prior suit pending, and denied the plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint in the first case to add claims for medical malpractice against the nursing home defendants. Having determined that the plaintiff complied with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26- 121(a) by giving the requisite 60 days notice to the medical providers and that the statute of limitations had not run, we have concluded that the trial court erred in denying the plaintiff’s Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.01 motion to amend the complaint. Accordingly, we reverse and remand with instructions to grant the plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint for ordinary negligence against the nursing home defendants thus allowing the plaintiff to assert medical malpractice claims against the nursing home defendants and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion

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