12 Nov Martin v. Rolling Hills Hospital, LLC. Williamson County, Tennessee. Edward Hadley and Matthew Buchbinder
In April 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued an opinion reinstating the trial court’s dismissal of a healthcare liability action for Plaintiffs’ failure to comply with the presuit notice provision of the Health Care Liability Act by not providing a HIPAA-compliant authorization with the presuit notice letter. Previously, the trial court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims based on the statute of limitations – because Plaintiffs failed to substantially comply with Tenn. Code Ann. section 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) by sending an medical record authorization that did not comply with three of the six core elements under HIPAA, Plaintiffs were not entitled to the 120-day extension of the statute of limitations provided under -121. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, holding that Defendants did not adequately demonstrate prejudice from Plaintiff’s noncompliance.
The Tennessee Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s reasoning and reinstated the dismissal. Further, the Tennessee Supreme Court reconsidered the role of prejudice in a court’s analysis of whether a plaintiff substantially complied with Tenn. Code Ann. section 29-26-121 and implemented a rebuttable presumption of prejudice. Specifically, the Court held that, although it is initially the defendant’s burden to identify a defect in a presuit notice authorization and state whether the defendant was prejudiced by the defect in a motion to dismiss, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate to the court that the noncompliance did not prejudice the defendant.