Court rejects appeal of verdict in favor of Munson Medical Center based on failure to exclude Munson "friend," pharmacy rep with a financial interest, and health care worker
In Deborah Six v. Ilia Arnold, et al., the Plaintiff alleged malpractice victim attempted to overturn the verdict against her by arguing that the Judge interpreted the rules governing juror selection in a manner that prevented her from excluding jurors who likely held a bias against her claim. Specifically, Six's lawyers attempted to challenge and dismiss a CPA who had previously been a corporate "member" of the hospital and who confirmed that he tended to agree with "caps" on damages. They also attempted to challenge and dismiss a pharmacy rep who had financial ties to Munson and a woman "connected" with the nursing profession who expressed concerns about future employment with Munson.
The victim's attorneys argued that because the judge didn't recognize appropriate challenges for cause related to these three individuals, the attorney's were forced to use up their three peremptory challenges and thereby were unable to challenge the service of a certified medical assistant with close ties to the medical community. The higher court acknowledged that the challenged jurors were "problematic" and that at least two of the jurors could have been excused "for cause" [the opinion written by three staunch Republican insurance allies failed to address exlusion of one of the jurors] but ruled that it was not an abuse of discretion to fail to discharge them.
Incredibly, the panel went on to hold that the Plaintiff's right to challenge the final replacement juror whom the Plaintiff's lawyers would like to have excluded, was unreasonable, despite her close connections to the medical profession and medical professionals in the community.
In fact, under the Michigan Court Rules, the peremptory challenge which the Plaintiffs sought to use to excuse this witness can be exercised for any reason--even a hostile glance by the juror--and need not be based upon "cause." Reading the appeals court opinion, it appears the judges' decision to uphold the verdict was made before the issues were analyzed. In any event, the rules on challenges were devised and have been preserved so as to assure both an unbiased jury and the appearance of an unbiased jury. The Appeals Court judges appear to have forgotten this imperative.