Doctor Treats Juror During Trial – Mistrial?
The Plaintiff, who was pregnant, was admitted to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines because she was suffering from pelvic pain. Doctors performed an emergency c-section, followed by surgery to address problems stemming from the c-section, which resulted in a hysterectomy, followed by a surgery to hand and arm issues resulting from an IV infiltration which occurred during the surgery which had resulted in the hysterectomy, followed by a surgery to close the incision to arm from the prior surgery.
The Plaintiff sued the doctor who had performed the c-section and the anesthesiologist who had inserted the IV.
During the jury trial, one of the jurors fainted. The doctor/defendant who had performed the c-section, who had been sitting in the jury gallery, went to the jury box to assist the juror.
When the dust settled, the Plaintiff asked the Judge for a mis-trial. She claimed that because the jurors had witnessed the doctor rise to action and assist the fainted juror, they could not be fair and unbiased, but rather, would have tendency to side with the doctor when rendering their verdict. The Judge did not grant the mis-trial and the case moved forward.
The jury found in favor of both the doctor and the anesthesiologist.
The Plaintiff appealed. The Court of appeals agreed with the Plaintiff, finding that the trial Judge should have granted the Plaintiff’s request for the mis-trial.
The Defendants appealed. The Supreme Court agreed with the Plaintiff insofar as it found that the trial Judge should have granted the mis-trial with regard to the defendant/doctor who had treated the fainted juror. However, they agreed with the defendant/anesthesiologist that since that defendant had not provided assistance to the fainted juror, the jury would not have been unfairly swayed in her favor.
The Plaintiff will have the opportunity for a second trial against the doctor who attended the fainted juror.
Jack v. Booth and Sweetman (Iowa 2015).