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Rickerson v. Karl

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

April 1, 2015

Thomas Rickerson, Appellant,
v.
John Karl, M.D. and Virginia Bell, CS, FNP, Respondents

Heard January 6, 2015

Appeal From Horry County. Benjamin H. Culbertson, Circuit Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2013-001478.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

John S. Nichols and Blake Alexander Hewitt, both of Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado, LLC, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Marian Williams Scalise and Lydia Lewis Magee, both of Myrtle Beach, and Sheila Marlouvon Bias, of Columbia, all of Richardson Plowden & Robinson, PA, for Respondents.

OPINION

Page 768

[412 S.C. 217] GEATHERS, J.

Appellant Thomas Rickerson appeals the trial court's dismissal of his notice of intent to file suit (NOI) with prejudice after Rickerson failed to comply with the mandatory mediation requirement of section 15-79-125 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2014). We reverse the trial court's decision and remand this case.

FACTS/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This appeal arises out of a medical malpractice case. Rickerson alleged that an antibiotic prescribed to him by Dr. John Karl and nurse practitioner and clinical specialist Virginia Bell (collectively, Respondents) negatively interacted with medication that had previously been prescribed for him by other physicians. As a result, Rickerson developed complications, including bleeding and renal failure, and had to be hospitalized.

On May 15, 2012, Rickerson filed an NOI pursuant to section 15-79-125,[1] which requires that parties in a medical malpractice action participate in a mediation conference within 120 days after the service of an NOI. Rickerson failed to state in the NOI that the

Page 769

case was subject to mandatory mediation and failed to include a line for the clerk of court to write in the name of a mediator.[2] Over the next few months, Respondents [412 S.C. 218] made numerous requests for Rickerson's medical records, and Rickerson authorized their collection of the records. During this time, the parties did not discuss mediation and made no attempt to schedule the mandatory mediation conference.

On December 13, 2012, the clerk of court filed a notice of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and appointed a mediator to the case. After Rickerson received the notice, he contacted Respondents to set a date and time for mediation, but Respondents did not respond to the scheduling inquiry. Rickerson subsequently contacted the court-appointed mediator and requested that the mediator schedule the mediation for January 22, 2013.

Rickerson mailed a letter to Respondents on December 20, 2012, notifying them that he had scheduled a mediation conference with the court-appointed mediator; however, that same day, Respondents filed a motion to dismiss. In the motion, they contended the case should be dismissed with prejudice because the ...


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