Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California car accident case discussing whether the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial based on juror misconduct when a juror failed to disclose that he had been named in two prior lawsuits as a defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was no misconduct, dismissing the plaintiff’s appeal.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant conceded liability, but disputed the causation, nature, and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, the trial proceeded only on the issue of damages.
At trial, multiple experts testified regarding the causation and extent of the plaintiff’s damages. At the end of the trial, the plaintiff requested over $23 million in damages. The defendant, on the other hand, argued that the plaintiff sustained less than $500,000 in damages. After just two hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict awarding the plaintiff only $550,000.
After trial, the plaintiff learned that the foreperson of the jury had previously been named as a defendant in two other cases. The plaintiff claimed that the juror intentionally withheld this information in hopes of concealing bias so that he could get onto the jury.
Evidently, when the prospective juror was called into the juror box for questioning, he indicated that he was the CEO of a company and that he had “a big problem” with the time commitment of the trial and that he did not want to be there. However, when asked, the juror indicated that he could apply the law fairly. When the plaintiff asked if any of the jurors had been sued, the juror did not raise his hand or indicate that he has been sued. Eventually, the court cut-off counsel’s questioning and the juror was selected. He eventually became the foreperson of the jury.
The court reviewed the prior cases in which the juror was named as a defendant, and determined that one of the cases was dismissed without ever having a hearing. The other case only named the juror as an agent for service of process.
The Court’s Decision
The court held that there was no juror misconduct in this case, given the fact that there was no evidence the juror intentionally withheld the information that he had previously been named as a defendant. The court acknowledged that “one form of juror misconduct is a juror’s concealment of relevant facts.” However, an “unintentional failure to disclose material information will only justify disqualification if the juror was sufficiently biased to constitute good cause for removal.”
The court explained that the lower court was proper in its determination that the juror did not intentionally withhold the information. The court reasoned that one of the cases against the juror did not have a single hearing before it was dismissed and that the second case only named the juror as an agent for the purposes of service of process. The court also noted that the juror’s own words during jury-selection indicated that he did not want to be selected for the jury, decreasing the likelihood that he was intentionally concealing his prior experiences as a defendant to subvert the plaintiff’s chances of success.
Have You Been Injured in a California Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a California car accident, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at the Neumann Law Group can help. At the Neumann Law Group, we represent California car accident victims and their family members pursue claims for compensation against all responsible parties. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 800-525-6386 to schedule a free consultation today.