Tennessee Supreme Court Applies 3-Year Statute of Repose to Children

Yesterday afternoon the Tennessee Supreme Court said the the 3-year statute of repose found in the “Doctor and Hospital Relief Act of 1975” should be applied to claims made by minors.

Before yesterday, most lawyers assumed that minors had the right to wait until their 19th birthday to file suit. No more.

Our office filed an amicus brief for TTLA in support of the plaintiffs in this case. I argued the case for the plaintiffs.

Chief Justice Barker wrote for a 3-2 majority; he was joined by Justice Drowota and Justice Birch. Justice Holder wrote the dissent; she was joined by Justice Anderson.

I will be part of the effort to file a petition to re-hear and therefore I must reserve extensive comment at this time. Suffice it to say that dozens of medical negligence cases that have been brought on behalf of children will be dismissed if this opinion is applied as written. Hundreds of other cases sitting in law office right now – where the parents waited to see if their child would “grow out” of their problem – will never be filed.

And then, of course, there is the law of unintended consquences. Now parents will be forced to file cases early before they know if their child is truly injured. Defense costs will rise because of the need to defend cases that might not have otherwise been brought. And then the doctors and their insurers will blame the greedy trial lawyers for their problems.

Just like they did in 1975.