Last month, the Tennessee Court of Appeals at Jackson issued an opinion that preserved a plaintiff’s right to seek compensation on a wrongful death claim that stemmed from the death of his wife. In the case of Davis v. Ibach, Davis lost his wife after a surgery she received by the defendant doctors.
Davis named the doctors in his lawsuit and proceeded as normal. However, his attorney failed to file one of the documents that is required by the medical malpractice statute. Specifically, the statute requires that plaintiffs file a “certificate of good faith” indicating that the executing party is not in violation of the medical malpractice statute. Essentially this requirement is to weed out non-meritorious claims before valuable judicial resources are spent determining a case’s validity.
The defendants to the suit waited for several years before raising the issue, but eventually they did, asking the court to dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning that the case could not be re-filed, even after the error was corrected). In response, the plaintiff sought to voluntarily dismiss the case, so he could remedy the error. The defendants urged the court not to allow the plaintiff to fix the error, but to dismiss the case outright.
At the Trial Court
The trial court surveyed the relevant case law and determined that, although had the plaintiff not complied with the statute the case must have been dismissed with prejudice, since the plaintiff was seeking to voluntarily dismiss the case instead, the court is not prohibited from granting the order. Therefore, the court granted the plaintiff’s request and allowed him to re-file.
The defendants appealed, arguing that this was an improper ruling of law. However, the appellate court agreed with the plaintiff and the lower court that there was nothing stopping the court from granting the plaintiff’s request for voluntary dismissal, even though if the plaintiff hadn’t sought voluntary dismissal his case would have been dismissed with prejudice.
The defendants claimed that this was a way around the requirement that claims that are not in compliance with the statute are dismissed with prejudice. However, the court disagreed, explaining that nothing prohibited a court from granting an order for voluntary dismissal while the case was pending.
Are You Involved in a Tennessee Personal Injury Case?
As you can see from the above example, recovering after a injury or death of a loved one is far from simple. The law in this area can be exceedingly complex, and, if one wrong step is made, a plaintiff can find himself or herself waiving an otherwise viable claim. To make sure that you do all you can to prevent a procedural dismissal, consider contacting an experienced Tennessee accident attorney about your potential case. The attorneys at Matt Hardin Law know what it takes to bring a winning case in Tennessee and would love to meet with you about your case at your convenience. Click here, or call 615-200-1111 to schedule a free initial consultation.
See Related Blog Posts:
Chain Reaction Accident in Knoxville Claims Two Lives, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published June 30, 2014.
Domino-Effect Accident Leaves Three Dead in Tennessee, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published July 15, 2014.