A bill to streamline how Tennessee courts handle lawsuits against doctors is expected to be debated in a House subcommittee this week. The measure calls for experts to preview each case before it goes to court.
When the bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, House Judiciary Chairman Robb Briley reacted angrily, saying the bill was dead. Later, Briley said he
was only frustrated and now believes the medical malpractice legislation will pass.
Briley says he was angry that the Senate version didn’t address an old and clumsy qualification about expert witnesses called the “locality rule.”
“It’s technical jargon. It deals with the qualification of experts and whether or not they have to be familiar with the standard of care in the community practiced by the defendant physician. It’s basically a legal fiction at this point in time. It means really nothing but it creates some additional difficultly for both plaintiff and defendant experts. It’s tempting to try to open that issue up to more relevant subjects and issues and keep irrelevant stuff out.”
The bill is on tap for a hearing in the House Civil Practice Subcommittee tomorrow.