Supreme Court Rules that Nonsuit is Not a Basis for Malicious Prosecution Suit

ELLIOT H. HIMMELFARB, M.D., ET AL. v. TRACY R. ALLAIN
Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Christopher Kim Thompson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tracy R. Allain

M. Todd Sandahl, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellees, Elliot H. Himmelfarb, M.D., Elliot H. Himmelfarb, M.D., P.A., and Douglas C. York, M.D.

Judge: HOLDER

A patient discovered that a guide wire had been left in her vein during a prior medical procedure. She filed a medical malpractice action against the doctors who performed the procedure and the hospital where the procedure was performed. The patient voluntarily dismissed the medical malpractice suit pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41 when she was informed that another party was responsible for the presence of the guide wire. The doctors named in the original suit filed a malicious prosecution action against the patient. The patient filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that the doctors could not prove that the prior suit had been terminated in their favor. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial. We hold that a voluntary nonsuit taken pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41 is not a favorable termination on the merits for purposes of a malicious prosecution claim. We reverse the Court of Appeals and remand to the trial court for entry of summary judgment in favor of the patient and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
 

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