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September 26, 2014

Summary Judgment Standard

CaseMichelle Rye, et al. v. Women’s Care Center of Memphis, MPLLC d/b/a Ruch Clinic, et al.

Issue: The Supreme Court’s Order granting review noted the Court’s interest in “whether the Court should re-consider the summary judgment standard previously articulated by the Court in Hannan v. Alltel Publishing Co., 270 S.W.3d 1 (Tenn. 2008).”

Facts:  This case was filed before Hannan was statutorily overruled. Husband and Wife filed a healthcare liability action against Providers, alleging that the failure to give a certain injection negatively impacted Wife’s antibodies. Plaintiffs offered an expert who opined that this change could potentially cause complications if Wife became pregnant in the future. Providers offered a competing expert who refuted these findings, and concluded that injury was unlikely. The trial court granted summary judgment for Providers on Plaintiffs’ claims for future medical expenses and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court reversed, finding that the Providers could not overcome the high summary judgment standard articulated in Hannan, which applies in this case because it was filed prior to the passage of legislation which overruled that case. However, the court did express concern that the Plaintiff’s expert’s conclusion relied on multiple contingencies and uncertainties.

Review Granted:  September 19, 2014.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will likely affirm and leave Hannan undisturbed for cases still governed by that standard. Although the intermediate court raised several valid concerns with Hannan, it could cause chaos to modify a legal standard for cases already in litigation without the benefit of impacting future cases.