In a recent unanimous decision, the Texas Supreme Court made it clear that the 120-day clock for filing those reports stops when plaintiffs nonsuit their claim. The decision, CHCA Woman’s Hospital D/B/A The Woman’s Hospital of Texas and Woman’s Hospital of Texas v. Scott and Angela Lidji, issued on June 21, means plaintiffs will not lose their medical-malpractice claims if, for example, they nonsuit a case while searching for a doctor to write the statutorily mandated expert report.
The principal issue in the case before the court was whether dismissal by nonsuit of a health care-liability claim delayed the statutory expert-report deadline. In this case the Lidjis, suing on their son’s behalf, nonsuited their claim 116 days after its filing (four days before the expert-report deadline). When they refilled the suit more than two years later, the Lidjis served an expert report on the same day. The Lidjis argued that their nonsuit tolled the deadline for the expert report. The hospital moved to dismiss, contending the deadline for the report passed.
The Supreme Court held that the dismissal of the original suit tolled the statutory deadline for the expert report. The court found that construing the medical-liability act to require service of an expert report in the absence of a pending lawsuit would give rise to procedural complications that the statute does not envision and cannot adequately address.