Wheeler v. Methodist Richardson Medical Center
Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-17-00332-CV (December 7, 2017)
Justices Lang-Meirs (opinion linked here), Brown, and Boatright
The standard for allowing a medical malpractice plaintiff a second chance to submit a qualifying expert report is “minimal” and “lenient.” Chapter 74 of the Civil Practice & Remedies Code requires a medical malpractice plaintiff file a qualifying expert report within 120 days after the defendant’s answer is filed. Plaintiffs in this case submitted their expert reports on time, but the defendants objected, arguing the reports were insufficient under the statute because they failed to address causation. They argued the reports were so insufficient as to constitute “no report at all.” Plaintiffs requested a 30-day extension under §74.351 to cure the alleged deficiency and submitted an amended expert report in an effort to prove the deficiency was curable. The trial court found that, because the original reports completely omitted an essential element, they were so deficient as to constitute “no report.” It therefore denied the extension and dismissed plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice.

The Dallas Court of Appeals disagreed. It held the trial court should err on the side of granting an extension under §74.351 and must grant the extension if the deficiencies in the report are curable. The trial court therefore abused its discretion in dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims.