Civil Cases – Opinions Released in Calendar Year 2022

Cooper v. Mandy (HCLA Case – Multiple Issues – See Summary)

Style:  Donna Cooper, et al. v. Dr. Mason Wesley Mandy, et al.  

TSC Docket Number:  M2019-01748-SC-R11-CV

Date of TSC Opinion:  January 20, 2022 (3.5 months after oral argument).

Opinion of the TSC: 

https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/majority_opinion_-_sct_1-20-2022.pdf

TSC Summary of the Opinion:

The issue presented in this interlocutory appeal is whether the Health Care Liability Act, Tennessee Code Annotated sections 29-26-101 to -122, applies to medical battery and intentional misrepresentation claims against health care providers for injuries arising from a surgical procedure. The defendant doctor told the plaintiff he was an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon, and the plaintiff consented to surgery. But the doctor was not a board-certified plastic surgeon, and the surgery did not go well. The plaintiff and her husband sued the doctor and his medical practice for her injuries, alleging medical battery and intentional misrepresentation. The defendants moved to dismiss because the plaintiffs had not complied with the pre-suit notice and filing requirements of the Health Care Liability Act. The plaintiffs, conceding their noncompliance, argued the Act did not apply to their medical battery and intentional misrepresentation claims. The trial court agreed with the plaintiffs, ruling that the defendants’ misrepresentations were made before any health care services were rendered and thus did not relate to the provision of health care services. On interlocutory review, the Court of Appeals affirmed. We reverse and hold that the Health Care Liability Act applies to the plaintiffs’ claims. The Act broadly defines a “health care liability action” to include claims alleging that a health care provider caused an injury that related to the provision of health care services, regardless of the theory of liability. Based on the allegations in the complaint, the plaintiffs’ medical battery and intentional misrepresentation claims fall within the definition of a “health care liability action” under the Act. We remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Link to Court of Appeals Opinion:  https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/cooper.donna_.opn_.pdf

Summary by the Court of Appeals:  

The principal issue in this interlocutory appeal is whether intentional misrepresentations made by health care providers to induce a prospective patient to engage the health care providers’ services are within the purview of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act (“the Act”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-101 to -122. The complaint filed by the patient, Donna Cooper (“Mrs. Cooper”), and her husband alleges that Dr. Mason Wesley Mandy (“Dr. Mandy”) and Rachelle Norris (“Ms. Norris”) with NuBody Concepts, LLC, intentionally misrepresented that Dr. Mandy was a board-certified plastic surgeon and, based on their misrepresentation, Mrs. Cooper gave Dr. Mandy her consent to perform the surgery. Following “painful, disastrous results,” the plaintiffs asserted four claims: (1) intentional misrepresentation; (2) medical battery; (3) civil conspiracy; and (4) loss of consortium. Defendants filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12 motion to dismiss for failure to comply with the presuit notice and filing requirements of the Act, specifically Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 29-26-121 and -122. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, finding the Act did not apply. This interlocutory appeal followed. We hold that Mrs. Cooper is entitled to proceed on her claims of intentional misrepresentation and civil conspiracy because the alleged misrepresentations were inducements made prior to the existence of a patient-physician relationship; thus, the claims were not related to “the provision of . . . health care services.” See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-101(a)(1). We also affirm its ruling on the medical battery claim because a physician’s misrepresentation of a material fact, if proven, may vitiate consent, and, without consent, the very act of touching Mrs. Cooper may constitute an unlawful and offensive act that is not related to the provision of health care services. See Holt v. Alexander, No. W2003-02541-COA-R3-CV, 2005 WL 94370, at *6 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 13, 2005). Further, we affirm the trial court’s ruling on Mr. Cooper’s claim for loss of consortium because, as the trial court held, his claims relate to Dr. Mandy’s and Ms. Norris’s false representations of Dr. Mandy’s credentials, not to a provision of, or a failure to provide, a health care service. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court in all respects and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Permission to Appeal Granted:  April 7, 2021

Appellants’ Briefs Filed:  May 7, 2021

Appellees’ Briefs Filed:  June 8, 2021

Appellants’ Reply Brief Filed:   July 6, 2021

Appellees’ Reply Brief Filed:  July 19, 2021

Amicus Briefs Permitted:  None

Oral Argument Date: October 6, 2021

Link to Oral Argument Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox_d4D2-eQw

 

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