Document Category:
State: Tennessee
Subject Matter: TN Medical Malpractice Act
Document Title:

Tennessee Court of Appeals – Dismissal of Complaint for Med Mal – KATRINA MARTINS, ET AL. v. WILLIAMSON MEDICAL CENTER

Good evening and I am pleased to report that the Court of Appeals affirmed the Williamson County (Middle Tennessee) Trial Court holding
that the Complaint against Williamson Medical Center sounded in medical
malpractice (although alleged as ordinary negligence) and failed to
comply with the Medical Malpractice Act pre-suit requirements of notice and failed to file a certificate of good faith with the Complaint and allege proper notice. The Complaint was thus dismissed.

In many past updates, we’ve reported on the many appellate court cases (Smartt – which was an unfavorable COA ruling on the issue of ordinary negligence vs. medical malpractice and French which was favorable for the defense on the issues and was heard by the TN SC this past July) divided about whether a claim sounds in ordinary negligence or medical malpractice. In the attached Martins case, the allegation was that the hospital knew that Ms. Martins was at risk for post-delivery falls but failed to safeguard her. We often see these same allegations in ALF and LTC lawsuits so this opinion is very instructive. The COA stated:

“Taking the allegations of the complaint as true and affording them all reasonable

inferences, we agree with the trial court that Plaintiffs have alleged a claim for medical

malpractice. Although plaintiffs did not allege a specific legal duty which was breached by WMC, the allegations of the complaint, quoted above, go beyond alleging the duty applicable to the provision of custodial services. Smartt, 2009 WL 482475, at *9. Instead, the complaint alleges facts relating to services requiring specialized skill and training, such as recognizing the potential for a post-delivery fall and preventing injuries therefrom; the duty attendant to such services is the professional duty arising from the rendition of medical care covered by the malpractice act. See McBee v. HCA Health Services of Tennessee, Inc., No. M2000-00271-COA-R3-CV, 2000 WL 1533000, at *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 18, 2000) (“The assessment of a surgical patient’s post-operative ability to ambulate and the choice of the method of ambulation involves specialized skill and training that is not ordinarily possessed by lay persons.”).

The Plaintiffs were required to satisfy the requirements contained in Tenn. Code Ann.

§§ 29-26-121–122. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-122(a) states that if a certificate of good faith is not filed with the complaint, “the complaint shall be dismissed.” Consequently, the court did not err in dismissing the complaint.”

This finding tracks the arguments we make in the Motions to Dismiss the Plaintiff’s Complaints that are framed as general negligence but are, in fact, medical malpractice claims. While we await the ruling in French, we will rely on the Martins case to the extent the facts allow and we will keep you closely updated on developments.

May you and all of those close to you enjoy a special Thanksgiving holiday.



Rebecca Adelman


545 S. Main St., Suite 111

Memphis, Tennessee 38103

p] 901.529.9313

f] 901.529.8772


Document Author: Rebecca Adelman
Firm/Company: Adelman Law Offices
Document Date: January 1, 1970
Search Tags: med mal tn statutes
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