Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 29: Remedies and Special Proceedings

Chapter 26: Medical Malpractice

Part 1: General Provisions

TCA 29-26-122: Filing of certificate of good faith.

(a) In any health care liability action in which expert testimony is required by SC 29-26-115, the plaintiff or plaintiff's counsel shall file a certificate of good faith with the complaint. If the certificate is not filed with the complaint, the complaint shall be dismissed, as provided in subsection (c), absent a showing that the failure was due to the failure of the provider to timely provide copies of the claimant's records requested as provided in SC 29-26-121 or demonstrated extraordinary cause. The certificate of good faith shall state that:

(1) The plaintiff or plaintiff's counsel has consulted with one (1) or more experts who have provided a signed written statement confirming that upon information and belief they:

(A) Are competent under SC 29-26-115 to express an opinion or opinions in the case; and

(B) Believe, based on the information available from the medical records concerning the care and treatment of the plaintiff for the incident or incidents at issue, that there is a good faith basis to maintain the action consistent with the requirements of SC 29-26-115; or

(2) The plaintiff or plaintiff's counsel has consulted with one (1) or more experts who have provided a signed written statement confirming that upon information and belief they:

(A) Are competent under SC 29-26-115 to express an opinion or opinions in the case; and

(B) Believe, based on the information available from the medical records reviewed concerning the care and treatment of the plaintiff for the incident or incidents at issue and, as appropriate, information from the plaintiff or others with knowledge of the incident or incidents at issue, that there are facts material to the resolution of the case that cannot be reasonably ascertained from the medical records or information reasonably available to the plaintiff or plaintiff's counsel; and that, despite the absence of this information, there is a good faith basis for maintaining the action as to each defendant consistent with the requirements of SC 29-26-115. Refusal of the defendant to release the medical records in a timely fashion or where it is impossible for the plaintiff to obtain the medical records shall waive the requirement that the expert review the medical record prior to expert certification.

(b) Within thirty (30) days after a defendant has alleged in an answer or amended answer that a non-party is at fault for the injuries or death of the plaintiff and expert testimony is required to prove fault as required by SC 29-26-115, each defendant or defendant's counsel shall file a certificate of good faith stating that:

(1) The defendant or defendant's counsel has consulted with one (1) or more experts, which may include the defendant filing the certificate of good faith, who have provided a signed written statement confirming that upon information and belief they:

(A) Are competent under SC 29-26-115 to express an opinion or opinions in the case; and

(B) Believe, based on the information reviewed concerning the care and treatment of the plaintiff for the incident or incidents at issue, that there is a good faith basis to allege such fault against another consistent with the requirements of SC 29-26-115; or

(2) The defendant or defendant's counsel has consulted with one (1) or more medical experts, which may include the defendant filing the certificate of good faith, who have provided a signed written statement confirming that upon information and belief they:

(A) Are competent under SC 29-26-115 to express an opinions or opinions in the case; and

(B) Believe, based on the information reviewed concerning the care and treatment of the plaintiff for the incident or incidents at issue, that there are facts material to the resolution of the case that cannot be reasonably ascertained from the information reasonably available to the defendant or defendant's counsel; and that, despite the absence of this information, there is a good faith basis for alleging such fault against another, whether already a party to the action or not, consistent with the requirements of SC 29-26-115.

(c) The failure of a plaintiff to file a certificate of good faith in compliance with this section shall, upon motion, make the action subject to dismissal with prejudice. The failure of a defendant to file a certificate of good faith in compliance with this section alleging the fault of a non-party shall, upon motion, make such allegations subject to being stricken with prejudice unless the plaintiff consents to waive compliance with this section. If the allegations are stricken, no defendant, except for a defendant who complied with this section, can assert, and neither shall the judge nor jury consider, the fault, if any, of those identified by the allegations. The court may, upon motion, grant an extension within which to file a certificate of good faith if the court determines that a health care provider who has medical records relevant to the issues in the case has failed to timely produce medical records upon timely request, or for other good cause shown.

(d) (1) Subject only to subdivision (d)(2), the written statement of an expert relied upon in executing the certificate of good faith is not discoverable in the course of litigation.

(2) If a party in a health care liability action subject to this section prevails on the basis of the failure of an opposing party to offer any competent expert testimony as required by SC 29-26-115, the court may, upon motion, compel the opposing party or party's counsel to provide to the court a copy of each such expert's signed written statement relied upon in executing the certificate of good faith. The medical experts may be compelled to provide testimony under oath, as determined by the court, for the purposes of determining that party's compliance with subsection (a) or (b).

(3) If the court, after hearing, determines that this section has been violated, the court shall award appropriate sanctions against the attorney if the attorney was a signatory to the action and against the party if the party was proceeding pro se. The sanctions may include, but are not limited to, payment of some or all of the attorney's fees and costs incurred by a party in defending or responding to a claim or defense supported by the non-complying certificate of good faith. If the signatory was an attorney, the court shall forward the order to the board of professional responsibility for appropriate action. Upon proof that a party or party's counsel has filed a certificate of good faith in violation of this section in three (3) or more cases in any court of record in this state, the court shall, upon motion, require the party or party's counsel to post a bond in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per adverse party in any future health care liability case to secure payment of sanctions for any violation of this section in such case.

(4) A certificate of good faith shall disclose the number of prior violations of this section by the executing party.

(5) The administrative office of the courts shall develop a certificate of good faith form to effectuate the purposes of this section.

History: Acts 2008, ch. 919, SC 1; 2009, ch. 425, SC 2; 2012, ch. 798, SC 14.