Thursday, March 8, 2012

Juror Bias Warrants New Trial After Defense Verdict In Medical Malpractice Case

In Fields v. Saunders the Oklahoma Supreme Court recenlty granted a new trial based on juror bias in a medical malpractice case that ended in a defense verdict. Fields  In the case, later in the day after the defense verdict was rendered one of jurors walked into a bar and made the following comments to an attorney not connected with the case: "(1) the plaintiffs would have never won the case with him (the juror) serving in the case, (2) he (the juror) was not impartial despite stating in voir dire he could be, and (3) he (the juror) wanted to "play the judicial system" and believed plaintiffs had the burden to prove the defendants intended harm beyond a reasonable doubt before they could recover."

Attitudes and biases like these are not uncommon among  jurors, based on my years of research on juror decision making. We have known that  some people called for jury service can never be convinced that to decide for patient and against a health care provider no matter what  evidence is presented and despite strong evidence of malpractice. The case is over with before it begins with such jurors. Moreover, like the juror in Fields, many jurors require a burden of proof far greater than what the law requires. Often no level of proof, no matter  how strong the evidence, is satisfactory with such jurors.

What is uncommon, nonetheless, is a case getting reversed based on juror bias. The courts should take notice that juror bias like this is much more the norm than the exception and be vigilant to eradicate such bias through thorough and thoughtful voir dire. In this case, the juror intentionally mislead the parties in voir dire. Most jurors are well meaning and are motivated to do the right thing. Many jurors though can unconsciously have the same level of bias as the juror in Fields, while not intentionally trying to be deceptive. These jurors, while well intentioned, are simply not consciously aware of the level of their bias or wrongly assume that they can hold their bias in check. See Ross, et. al. Naive Realism

The opinion worth reading! Fields

1 comment:

  1. Well, if a medicine is putting negative effects on your body, your doctor would be expected to provide suitable guidance to get over with the side effects. Sometimes, overdose of any harmful chemical might even result in serious consequences. Thus, it is the responsibility of a doctor to save his patients if he is falling into deep trouble.