In an HCLA case where plaintiff named a physician employed by a governmental entity as a defendant but did not name the governmental entity, dismissal was affirmed. Further, plaintiff’s motion to amend to name the governmental entity was properly denied as futile where plaintiff did not give pre-suit notice to the governmental entity and, therefore, the claim against the governmental entity would be time-barred even if it related back to the filing of the complaint.
In Fisher v. Smith, No. W2022-00779-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 23, 2023), plaintiff’s HCLA claim arose from an abdominal surgery she had at a hospital in March 2020. Dr. Smith was the surgeon and was an employee of West Tennessee Medical Group (WTMG), which was a governmental entity. Until a year before the surgery at issue, Dr. Smith had been an employee of Jackson Surgical Associates, P.A. (JSA), but in March 2019 WTMG acquired JSA, thereafter operating the practice as Jackson Surgical Associates with no P.A. as part of the name.
In February 2021, plaintiffs sent pre-suit notice to Dr. Smith, JSA, the surgical center and the hospital, and amended pre-suit notices were sent to the same entities on March 1, 2021. No pre-suit notice was sent to WTMG. Dr. Smith, JSA, and the hospital responded to their notices “by informing the [plaintiffs] that Dr. Smith was employed by WTMG and not JSA and that WTMG was a governmental entity.” When plaintiffs filed their suit in June 2021, however, they named Dr. Smith and JSA as defendants.