Civil Cases – Opinions Released in Calendar Year 2023

Beverly Gardner v. Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital (Health Care Liability Claim)

Style: Beverly Gardner v. Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital

TSC Docket Number: M2019-02237-SC-R11-CV

Date of TSC Opinion:  July 20, 2023

Opinion of the TSC:   Majority   Concurring   Dissent

TSC Summary of the Majority Opinion:

“When there is a conflict between the common law and a statute, the provision of the statute must prevail.” Graves v. Ill. Cent. R.R. Co., 148 S.W. 239, 242 (Tenn. 1912). That longstanding rule is the key to resolving this case, which pits a common-law rule governing vicarious liability claims against certain procedural provisions of Tennessee’s Health Care Liability Act. The defendant in this case moved for summary judgment under the common-law rule. The trial court granted that motion, but the Court of Appeals reversed after concluding that application of the common-law rule would conflict with the Act. We agree that the Act necessarily implies an intent to abrogate the common-law rule in the circumstances of this case and affirm the Court of Appeals’ decision.

Link to Court of Appeals Opinion:

Summary by the Court of Appeals:

A patient filed a health care liability claim against a hospital, asserting the hospital was vicariously liable for injuries she suffered as a result of the anesthesia providers’ conduct. The hospital moved for summary judgment, arguing that the anesthesia providers were not employed by the hospital and the hospital was, therefore, not liable for the anesthetists’ actions as a matter of law because the statute of limitations had run on the plaintiff’s direct claims against the anesthesia providers by the time the plaintiff filed her complaint against the hospital. The trial court granted the hospital’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint, relying on the common law set forth in Abshure v. Methodist HealthcareMemphis Hospitals, 325 S.W.3d 98 (Tenn. 2010). Acknowledging the conflict between provisions of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act and the common law, we hold that the statute prevails. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

Permission to Appeal Granted: September 22, 2021

Appellants’ Briefs Filed: October 22, 2021

Appellees’ Briefs Filed: November 23, 2021

Appellants’ Reply Brief Filed: December 6, 2021

Appellees’ Reply Brief Filed:

Amicus Briefs Permitted:  None

Oral Argument Date: April 6, 2022

Link to Oral Argument Video:



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