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October 20, 2021

Health Care Liability Act: Vicarious Liability Claims

Cases:

Beverly Gardner v. Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital

Dennis Harold Ultsch v. HTI Memorial Hospital Corporation

Facts:   In two unrelated cases, the plaintiffs initially filed suit against hospitals for vicarious liability of their agents and provided the requisite pre-suit notices. The plaintiffs then sought to add the agents as additional defendants more than one year from the incident, but within 120 days from the pre-suit notice. Both trial courts dismissed the amended complaints adding the additional defendants

Appellate Decision: The intermediate courts in both the Gardner and Ultsch cases reversed the dismissals and held that the 120-day extension of the Health Care Liability Act trumped the common law doctrine which would otherwise have procedurally barred a claim against a principal’s agent after the standard one-year limitations period per Abshure v. Methodist Healthcare-Memphis Hospitals, 325 S.W.3d 98 (Tenn. 2010).

Review Granted:   September 22, 2021. The Supreme Court’s order granting review directed that the cases be placed on the same docket for oral argument.

Prediction:   Ben thinks the Supreme Court will agree with the intermediate courts and allow the plaintiffs to proceed with amended complaints against the additional defendants because the statutory extension of the limitations period should apply.