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News Release

Joseph M. Clark and Samantha E. Bennett Triumph in Court of Appeals

The defense team of Joseph M. Clark and Samantha E. Bennett prevailed last week in the Tennessee Court of Appeals as the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal with prejudice of the Plaintiffs’ health care liability action.  The Plaintiffs’ Complaint alleged that negligence during labor and delivery caused the minor Plaintiff to sustain permanent brain injury. In response to the Plaintiffs’ Complaint, Mr. Clark and Mr. Bennett, on behalf of their clients, a physician group and individually named physician, filed a motion to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ Complaint as time-barred by the statute of limitations and statute of repose as a result of the Plaintiffs’ failure to substantially comply with the statutory pre-suit notice requirements.  Specifically, the Defendants argued that the Plaintiffs failed to provide them with a HIPAA compliant medical authorization that would allow them to obtain the Plaintiffs’ medical records from all other providers being sent notice as required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E).  Based on its determination that the Plaintiffs failed to substantially comply with the pre-suit notice statute, the trial court found that the Plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred because they impermissibly relied on the 120-day extension of the statute of limitations and statute of repose when they filed their Complaint.  Accordingly, the trial court dismissed the Plaintiffs’ Complaint with prejudice.  The trial court also concluded that the Plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121 were without merit.

On appeal, the Plaintiffs raised several procedural and substantive issues, all of which were rejected by the appellate court.  The Court of Appeals rejected all of the Plaintiffs’ arguments that the authorization was sufficient to satisfy the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121 and determined that there was no extraordinary cause to excuse the Plaintiffs’ failure to comply with the statutory requirements.  The Court of Appeals held that the Plaintiffs’ Complaint was time-barred and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal with prejudice of the Plaintiffs’ Complaint.  The Court of Appeals further affirmed prior appellate court decisions upholding the constitutionality of the pre-suit notice statute.

We congratulate Joe and Samantha on this victory!

Clark-0387Mr. Clark maintains a general civil trial practice with a focus primarily on medical malpractice defense. He has tried numerous civil lawsuits to verdict, and he has briefed and argued cases before the Tennessee Court of Appeals and the Tennessee Supreme Court.  Mr. Clark is a Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediator.

 

Bennett-0193Ms. Bennett focuses her practice primarily in the areas of medical malpractice defense and insurance defense.  Before attending law school, Ms. Bennett spent several years working as a medical malpractice paralegal and held a position as an adjunct professor in The University of Memphis Department of Political Science.  A 2012 magna cum laude graduate of The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Ms. Bennett earned numerous writing, academic, and service awards while in law school.