Thursday, October 21, 2010

TN Supreme Court reviews whether the lower courts properly dismissed vicarious liability claims against a hospital in a medical malpractice case.


This appeal involves a vicarious liability claim against a hospital based on the conduct of an emergency room physician. A patient and her husband filed a medical malpractice suit in the Circuit Court for Shelby County against a hospital and two physicians, one of whom had treated the patient in the hospital's emergency room. Among other things, the complaint broadly alleged that the hospital was vicariously liable for the conduct of its agents.

After the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims against both physicians for the second time, the hospital sought the dismissal of the vicarious liability claims on the ground that the plaintiffs' claims against its apparent agent, the emergency room physician, were barred by operation of law.

The trial court granted the hospital's motion, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the vicarious liability claims against the hospital. Abshure v. Upshaw, No. W2008-01486-COA-R3-CV, 2009 WL 690804, at *5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 17, 2009). We granted the Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed by the patient and her husband to determine whether their vicarious liability claims against the hospital should be dismissed under the facts of this case. We have determined that the lower courts erred by dismissing the vicarious liability claims against the hospital.

Opinion may be found at:

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