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Florida Fourth DCA quashes trial court order allowing plaintiff to conduct post-trial juror interviews following medical negligence defense verdict

On June 21, 2017, in Children’s Medical Center v. Kim, No. 4D16-4319, the Florida Fourth DCA quashed a trial court order allowing the plaintiffs to conduct post-trial juror interviews following a medical negligence defense verdict. The trial court had granted the plaintiffs’ motion based on the alleged failure of two jurors to disclose prior domestic violence cases in their responses to the jury questionnaire. The Fourth DCA noted that although post-verdict juror interviews are generally disfavored, where there is adequate proof that a juror may have failed to disclose material information on voir dire, a party is entitled to conduct an interview of the juror. Citing Hillsboro Mgmt., LLC v. Pagono, 112 So. 3d 620, 624 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013). However, the movant must satisfy demonstrate three elements necessary to warrant post-trial juror interviews: materiality, concealment, and diligence. See De La Rosa v. Zequeira, 659 So. 2d 239, 241 (Fla. 1995). According to a previous decision of the Fourth DCA, the three-part requires proof that: (1) The concealed information was relevant and material to jury service in the case; (2) The juror concealed the information during questioning; and (3) The failure to disclose the information was not attributable to the complaining party’s lack of diligence. Pembroke Lakes Mall Ltd. v. McGruder, 137 So. 3d 418, 427 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014). In the instant case, the Fourth DCA concluded that the plaintiff had failed all three tests. Regarding relevance and materiality, the Court noted that the nondisclosed litigation history was old and seemingly not related to medical negligence and that plaintiff’s counsel had not asked follow-up questions even when other prospective jurors did disclose prior litigation. Regarding concealment, the Court concluded that the question asked, which inquired generally about previous lawsuits, was too vague too warrant the conclusion that the two jurors intentionally concealed information about the domestic violence cases. Regarding due diligence, the Court concluded that plaintiff’s counsel’s failure to more sufficiently identify the type of prior litigation being inquired about, coupled with counsel’s failure to research the litigation histories of the prospective jurors at any time before the jury returned a verdict, was indicative of a lack of due diligence.
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