The Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cuyahoga County held today that our client was denied his constitutional right to a fair trial in his age discrimination lawsuit when a potentially biased juror was permitted to serve on the jury. As a result, the Court of Appeals threw out a tainted jury verdict against our client and sent the case back for new trial.
Shortly after trial in our client’s age discrimination lawsuit, we learned the jury foreman, a physician, had been untruthful during jury selection. When asked by both the Trial Judge and us whether he had been sued for malpractice before, the juror boasted that he had not been. In truth, he had been sued repeatedly, including one case that ended just a year earlier. Because nobody knew at the time the juror had been untruthful, he was seated and became the jury foreman. He voted for the defendant in a 6-2 verdict. Without his vote, there would not have been enough votes for a verdict against our client under Ohio law.
In order to preserve the constitutional right to a fair trial, Ohio law requires that jurors be “entirely unbiased.” The Court of Appeals agreed with us that because the jury foreman dishonestly answered questions about having been a defendant himself, there was reason to “doubt whether he could be an unbiased [juror]” in our client’s case. He was therefore not qualified to sit on the jury according to the Court. His inclusion on the jury tainted the verdict and denied our client the right to a fair trial by an unbiased jury. Particularly relevant to the Court was the fact that the juror became the foreman, and “could have influenced the other jurors.”
The right to a fair trial by unbiased jurors is sacred in our judicial system. Our client was denied that right when we tried his age discrimination case the first time. We look forward to returning to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and getting him the fair trial he deserves.
The Court’s opinion can be found here.