In the aftermath of a groundbreaking $261 million jury verdict against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (JHACH), a contentious battle erupted when the hospital’s attorneys filed a motion for a new trial based on alleged “juror misconduct.” Rather than accepting the jury’s decision, JHACH attempted to upend the outcome, pointing fingers at Juror #1 and his wife, insinuating undue influence.
The hospital’s defense claimed that Juror #1’s wife had purportedly delved too deeply into trial details, insinuating that her alleged engagement must have swayed her husband’s judgment in favor of the plaintiff. However, lacking any substantial evidence of the wife’s influence, JHACH resorted to publicizing the couple’s personal information online, later redacting it due to public outcry.
I spoke with the Kowalski family’s attorney, Greg Anderson, who rebuffed the hospital’s bid for a new trial. Anderson emphasized the absurdity of the defense’s argument, highlighting the court’s instructions barring jurors from discussing the case, even with family members. He dismissed the defense’s claims of “misconduct by proxy” and underscored that such assumptions would essentially impede any married juror from serving on a trial.
Legal experts and observers widely derided the defense’s motion as frivolous and reaching. Critics lampooned the defense’s accusations, particularly their fixation on Juror #1’s wife’s social media activity and connections, terming it ludicrous and far-fetched. Moreover, leaked emails suggested that the defense had prior knowledge of some online information before the verdict, casting doubt on their post-verdict allegations.
The plaintiff’s response dismantled the defense’s claims, highlighting the court’s admonitions to jurors not to engage in discussions about the trial, thus refuting the defense’s assertions of prejudiced behavior due to the wife’s social media engagement. Additionally, the defense’s accusations regarding information from online sources were debunked by the plaintiff, citing court records of testimony preceding Juror #1’s alleged use of a particular phrase.
Amidst the legal wrangling, concerns arose over the precedent set by JHACH’s tactics, drawing attention to potential juror intimidation and harassment by the losing party in a lawsuit. The impending hearing scheduled for December 15th will determine the fate of the motions, including the defense’s request to question Juror #1 and his wife and access their personal devices. The case underscores broader issues concerning the sanctity of jury trials and the repercussions of targeting jurors and their families based on the outcomes of legal proceedings.