A defense verdict in a medical malpractice case was set aside due to a juror’s failure to disclose nine prior civil lawsuits and a criminal case in response to a written jury questionnaire. Dr. Sohail Delfani, shown smiling in this picture, is probably not very happy with his lawyers who apparently failed to do a proper background check on the venire panel during jury selection in his case. It would be really hard to miss NINE prior civil cases. Or — consider this –maybe the lawyers DID perform a background check on the juror and maybe they made a tactical decision to keep this information about the juror’s prior lawsuits to themselves to use in a motion for new trial in the event their client suffered an adverse verdict. Risky move, but there are rumors flying around these days that some law firms are employing these questionable tactics. We’ll never know. But if I were Dr. Delfani, I sure would want to know!
One thing the readers of this blog do know though, is that in 2007 it is now imperative that trial lawyers have their staff or investigators perform background checks on jurors during voir dire. There is a wealth of information readily available on the internet these days. It has been over five years since the Supreme Court of Florida approved performing background checks on jurors in Florida trials in the case of Roberts v. Tejada, 814 So.2d 334 (Fla 2002), and yet verdict after verdict is reversed on appeal or post-trial as a result of juror nondisclosure. In this case, it was some considerably outrageous concealment.
The 3rd DCA opinion itself is pretty unremarkable. There was no way the verdict could stand. The jury’s FOREMAN denied in his own handwriting on his written questionnaire that he had ever been involved in any other lawsuits or claims, even though apparently he had been involved in nine civil cases and a criminal one. See, Delfani v. Cromer, 967 So. 2d 384 (Fla 3rd DCA 2007).
1 comment November 2nd, 2007