The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently had before it a case claiming medical malpractice that stemmed from the allegedly negligent treatment of a woman’s rheumatoid arthritis, which the plaintiffs claim resulted in her death.
In the case, Johnson v. Floyd, Tenn. Ct. App. (2014), the plaintiffs had filed suit on behalf of their mother alleging medical malpractice, but then they entered a voluntary dismissal of the action. Just short of a year later, they attempted to reinstate their suit by filing a second complaint and serving the defendants with notice.
The defendants filed motions to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs’ claim was barred by the one-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims and that the second complaint did not relate back to the original complaint. In essence, they argued that the case was not filed within the relevant statute of limitations, and thus the suit could not be brought.
In analyzing the relevant statute of limitations quandary, the court discussed an analogous case that fell under similar circumstances. The court found that the relevant time period for falling within the statute of limitations is 120 days from the date of the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Apparently, there was some sort of regulatory statute regarding the notice requirements for medical malpractice claims that took effect at some time around when the plaintiffs’ amended complaint was filed. Therefore, it was unclear whether the new law would apply or not. In a prior case with similar circumstances, the court treated the situation as creating “transitional plaintiffs,” and it found that the filing within one year and 120 days of the initial nonsuit met the statute of limitation requirements under the law.
Therefore, since in this case, the plaintiffs filed their second complaint within the one year and 120 days relevant period following the nonsuit of their original case, the second complaint was timely, and the lower court’s dismissal on the basis of noncompliance with the statute of limitations was reversed. The case was therefore remanded.
Statutes of limitations are strictly enforced in medical malpractice and all other cases in Tennessee. A failure to file a case within the relevant time period required under state law could serve to completely foreclose your opportunity to secure a legal remedy.
Medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, dentists, and hospitals, are obligated to use a reasonable level of care when treating their patients. Where they do not exercise this care, serious injuries may result. The malpractice attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC in Nashville are devoted to helping patients who have been injured by negligent medical providers seek compensation. Our firm handles a wide variety of medical and dental malpractice suits, working hard to hold those who are responsible for patients’ injuries accountable for their actions. Contact us today in order to discuss your potential medical malpractice case.