Medical malpractice victim's appeal of adverse jury verdict is dismissed; cannot prove prejudiced juror
Jacqueline Brown sued Mid-Michigan Medical Center and Dr. James Bicknell alleging that negligence caused her to lose most of her small bowel. The jury decided she did not prove malpractice and entered judgment against her. Only then did she disclose to her attorney that she believed one of the jurors was a guy who had sought her telephone number at a coffee shop: she suggested that he knew her, had failed to disclose their acquaintance and harbored a grudge. The lawyer investigated and also learned that the juror's mother worked at Mid-Michigan as a nurse. He filed a motion to overturn the jury verdict.
The trial judge took testimony from the juror who denied that he had ever met the plaintiff and claimed that he did not disclose any relationship with Mid Michigan, or disclose that his mother worked in the medical field because at the time of jury selection, she was unemployed and looking for work as a nurse. The judge ultimately decided this credibility issue against the plaintiff (perhaps because it sort of appears that she was willing to risk the juror's familiarity with her--and his non-disclosure--if it worked in her favor?) and refused to over-turn the verdict.
On appeal, the high court held that this decision did not constitute an abuse of discretion by the judge. It also held that his refusal to award sanctions to the defendant was correct: there was a legitimate basis for the plaintiff's attorney to bring the matter to the court for investigation.