JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) – The Supreme Court of Missouri has affirmed a lower court’s verdict in favor of the defendant in a medical negligence case in which two plaintiffs claimed a juror should have been disqualified.
The plaintiffs' attorneys argued that juror expressed a disqualifying bias against their clients. The opinion was issued Aug. 1.
In March 2013, Marlin Thomas and Ma Sheryll Thomas filed suit against Mercy Hospitals alleging medical negligence in the Caesarean-section birth of Thaddeus Thomas, which they claim caused his brain damage.
As the initial proceedings unfolded, plaintiffs' attorneys claimed the juror in question expressed a level of potential biasness that moved them to request that she be dismissed from the jury pool, according to the court's opinion. After that motion was denied by the trial court, the plaintiffs later filed a motion for a new trial, which was also denied. The Supreme Court granted transfer of the appeal from the appellate court.
Attorneys Kenneth W. Bean and Mohsen P.K. Pasha of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard PC served as counsel for Mercy. Bean told Legal Newsline the legal team for the two plaintiffs has now requested a rehearing.
“They filed the motion and we expect to have a response by early September,” he said. “Their claim is that the court misapplied the law where the juror is concerned. The initial vote was 6-0, so we don’t expect them to win. There’s nothing new raised in their motion.”
In rendering its verdict, the Missouri high court wrote, “the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding, without additional questioning, she was rehabilitated when the entire voir dire was considered, including her later statement that she could follow the trial court’s instructions. The trial court was in the best position to determine whether the prospective juror was disqualified.”
Concerns about the juror’s suitability for the case were raised after she indicated she had a deeply rooted knowledge of Mercy Hospital and its origins, according to the court's opinion.
The Missouri Supreme Court order was signed by Judge Laura Denvir Stith, who has set on the bench since 2001.