Tennessee Defense

Lawyers Association

TDLA Amicus Brief Efforts

22 Apr 2019 8:39 PM | Mary Gadd (Administrator)

One of the membership benefits at TDLA is being part of an organization that can make a difference in Tennessee law. TDLA has submitted several Amicus Briefs in the last few months and below is a summary of those efforts.

Individual Healthcare Specialists, Inc. v. Bluecross Blueshield of Tennessee, Inc. - TDLA garnered national attention from DRI for its involvement in this case. The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an opinion in January addressing the issues discussed in the Amicus Brief filed by DRI with the assistance of TDLA last year. In the case, the Court found Defendants breached its contract with Plaintiffs by failing to pay post-termination commissions, but the discovery rule did not apply because the alleged breach did was not "inherently undiscoverable. While the Court did not reject the discovery rule with respect to all breach of contract cases, the opinion indicated that the discovery rule would apply in very narrow circumstances, if at all.

Martin et. al v. Rolling Hills Hospital, LLC - This is a healthcare liability case in which the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the claim based on plaintiffs’ incomplete HIPAA authorization and failure to comply with Tenn. Code Ann. section 29-26-121. The Supreme Court accepted the parties’ application and has asked for briefs regarding the role of prejudice in a substantial compliance analysis and when a plaintiff fails to provide a HIPAA-compliant authorization with the pre- suit notice letter. The parties’ briefing of these issues is completed, and TTLA has submitted an Amicus Brief. In response, TDLA Professional Negligence and Medical Malpractice Chair Chris Vrettos of Gideon, Cooper & Essary has filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of TDLA last week. More to come on this case.

Tennessee Farmers v. DeBruce - TDLA members Hannah Lowe of Trammell, Adkins and Ward and Hank Spragins of Hickman, Goza and Spragins have agreed to co-author an Amicus Brief on behalf of TDLA regarding this significant case. The Tennessee Declaratory Judgment Act (Tenn. Code Ann. 29-14-107(a)) requires that “all persons shall be made parties who have or claim an interest which would be affected by the declaration, and no declaration shall prejudice the rights of persons not parties to the proceedings.” To date, Tennessee appellate courts have never gone so far as to hold that a court would not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear a declaratory judgment action when the insurer failed to include a party that claims an interest in the declaration. This case makes doing so a possibility.

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