Could Jury Misconduct Overturn A Favorable Verdict in Maryland Accident Cases?

Personal injury suits are incredibly important for those who injured in a Maryland accident. The lawsuits can help to ensure that those hurt get compensated for their medical bills, future care needs, lost wages, and more. While many Maryland personal injury cases settle before trial, some will go to trial. However, a recent state appellate case illustrates that obtaining a favorable jury verdict may not be the end of the case—sometimes, a losing party can appeal and request a new trial if they believe there was a legal error in the trial.

According to the court’s written opinion, the case arose from a tragic accident in a daycare facility. In September of 2015, an unsecured television fell onto the victim—who was not yet two years old—while he was sleeping at the daycare facility. Part of his skull was crushed, and he was put on a ventilator for nine days. Years later, the victim continues to suffer from severe developmental issues. At five years old, he could not talk or control his bowel movements and frequently had mood swings, fits, and outbursts. It was believed that he would need 24-hour-care for the rest of his life. Because of the severe injuries, the victim’s parents filed suit against the daycare, alleging negligence in their care.

The parents won the case in the trial court, and were awarded $30.3 million in damages. However, the defendants appealed, asking for a new trial. Evidently, there had been an instance of jury misconduct during the original deliberations, and the defendants believed that it was significant enough to demand a new trial. According to the court, the misconduct occurred when one juror used his cellphone to google the meaning of a word that came up in conversation. The specific word was not disclosed in the record. The trial court investigated the incident, asking each juror what happened, if they were aware, and if it affected their decision in the case. By law, the jury is not allowed to search for or consider any additional information other than what was offered during the trial, so this incident could have resulted in a new trial.

However, the court, in interviewing the jury, found that five jurors remembered the searched word, two remembered only that the searched word was a medical term, and five were unaware of the internet search at all. Additionally, each jury member affirmed that they would not consider the meaning of the word or the search in making their determination. Because the appellate court found this to be sufficient to ensure there was no prejudice and the incident was handled properly by the trial court, the defendant’s request for a new trial was denied, and the jury verdict granting $30.3 million to the plaintiffs stood.

Contact a Maryland Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love has recently been injured in any sort of Maryland premises liability accident, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of bringing a civil negligence suit. Our attorneys are well-versed in Maryland personal injury law and can help you through every step of the process while answering your questions and zealously pursuing your rights. To learn more, call us today at 800-654-1949.

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