Negligence During Delivery Results In Traumatic Birth Injury, Part 3 of 9

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)

Faced with the twin facts that jurors are allowed great freedom in their conduct of deliberations and that a court can never know exactly what influences resulted in a particular verdict, our judicial system has established certain presumptions for reviewing allegations of juror misconduct. Jurors ordinarily are presumed to have followed the court’s instructions. (People v. Sanchez, (2001) 26 Cal. 4th 834, 852, (111 Cal. Rptr. 2d 129, 29 P. 3d 209]; Craddock v. Kmart Corp., (2001) 89 Cal. App. 4th 1300, 1308, [107 Cal. Rptr. 2d 881].) The California Supreme Court has consistently stated that on appeal, [w]e must of course, presume that the jury followed [the trial court’s] instructions… People v. Chavez, (1958) 50 Cal. 2d 778, 790, [329 P.2d 907].)… In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the presumption [that the jury adhered to the limiting instructions] will control. (People v. Beach, (1983) 147 Cal. App. 3d 612, 625, (195 Cal. Rptr. 3811.) (People v. Zack, (1986) 184 Cal. App. 3d 409, 416, [229 Cal. Rptr. 317].)

On the other hand, [j]uror misconduct such as the receipt of information about a party or the case that was not part of the evidence received at trial, leads to a presumption that the defendant was prejudiced thereby and may establish juror bias. (People v. Nesler, supra, 16 Cal. 4th at p. 578.) To succeed [on a claim of jury misconduct, a party] must show misconduct on the part of a juror; if he does, prejudice is presumed; [the opposing party] must then rebut the presumption or lose the verdict. (People v. Marshall, supra, 50 Cal. 3d at p. 949.)

The presumption of prejudice in a civil case is rebutted if the reviewing court reaches one of three conclusions: (1) the record establishes the absence of prejudice; (2) a review of the entire record shows there is no reasonable probability of actual harm to the complaining party under the constitutional standard of People v. Watson, (1956) 46 Cal. 2d 818, 836, [299 P.2d 243]. (See Hasson v. Ford Motor Co., (1982) 32 Cal. 3d 388, 416-417, [185 Cal. Rptr. 654, 650 P. 2d 1171]: McDonald v. Southern Pacific Transportation Co., (1999) 71 Cal. App. 4th 256, 265, [83 Cal. Rptr. 2d 7341); or (3), in the case of possible actual bias of a juror whose vote may have been determinative of the verdict there is no substantial likelihood that at least one juror was impermissibly influenced.

(See Province v. Center for Women’s Health & Family Birth, (1993) 20 Cal. App. 4th 1673, 1679-180, [25 Cal. Rptr. 2d 6671], disapproved on other grounds in Heller v. Norcal Mutual Ins. Co., (1994) 8 Cal. 4th 30, 41, [32 Cal. Rptr. 2d 200, 876 P. 2d 999]; See also Weathers v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, supra, 5 Cal. 3d 98, 110.) (See Part 4 of 9.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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