Med Mal Statute Provisions Extending S/L Do Not Extend GTLA Limitations of 12 Months, per United Supreme Court - Articles

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Posted by: Kreis White & Christy Gibson on May 14, 2013

WALTON CUNNINGHAM ET AL. v. WILLIAMSON CNTY. HOSP. DIST. d/b/a WILLIAMSON MED. CTR. ET AL.
Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Bryan Essay and James Charles Sperring, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Williamson Co. Hospital District d/b/a Williamson Medical Center, Karen Christopher, Charla Atkins, Camela McCullough, and Cary Ralph.

Elizabeth Sara Tipping, Johnathan H. Wardle, and Philip Norman Elbert, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Walton Cunningham and Phyllis Cunningham.

Arthur P. Brock and William J. Rieder, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Amicus Curiae, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority.

Judge: HOLDER

A husband and wife filed a claim against a county hospital alleging that the negligence of the hospital and its employees caused the death of their son. The claim was filed approximately fifteen months after their son’s death in accordance with the provisions of the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121 (2012). The county hospital, a governmental entity, filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the claim was filed outside the one-year statute of limitations of the Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”). Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-305(b) (2012). The couple responded that their complaint was timely filed because Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c) extended the GTLA statute of limitations by 120 days. The trial court denied the hospital’s motion to dismiss but granted an interlocutory appeal under Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Court of Appeals granted the Rule 9 application and affirmed the trial court’s denial of the hospital’s motion to dismiss. We granted the hospital permission to appeal. We hold that the 120-day extension provided by Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c) does not apply to the plaintiffs’ claim brought under the GTLA. We therefore reverse the judgment of the trial court denying the hospital’s motion to dismiss and remand the case to the trial court for entry of an order dismissing Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham’s complaint.

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