Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Motion to Strike Potential Juror Represented by Law Firm Involved Denied

In the non-precedential Pennsylvania Superior Court case of DeFrancesco v. Lehigh Valley Health Network, No. 742 EDA 2014 (Pa. Super.  May 26, 2015 Panella, Olson, Fitzgerald, J.J.) (slip op. by Fitzgerald, J.), the appellate court affirmed a trial court’s decision not to strike a juror from a medical malpractice case during voir dire even though the juror was a client of the same firm representing defendants in the case.

According to the Opinion, the juror had an estate that was being handled by a different attorney in the defendant hospital’s attorney’s office.  It was noted that the two attorneys worked in different satellite offices of the same firm and that the juror had never interacted with the defense attorney that was involved in this matter.

It was also emphasized that the potential juror advised the court that, despite the juror’s association with the defense law firm, that the juror would not be biased in favor of the defense attorney handling this trial.

The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the plaintiff’s motion to strike on the basis that the juror had a potential for bias given the juror’s attorney-client relationship with the defense firm.

The plaintiffs insisted that the juror had the potential for partiality, but the trial court ultimately denied their motion to strike.

In affirming the trial court’s decision, the Superior Court noted that this was not a case where the plaintiff had already exhausted its allowable peremptory challenges. 

In this matter, the plaintiff did use one of its peremptory challenges to strike the juror in question.  The plaintiff’s contention that it should not have been required to do so under the circumstances presented was rejected.

Anyone wishing to review this decision of the court may click this LINK

Source: “Panel Upholds Decision Not to Strike Juror With Ties to Firm” by P.J. D’Annunzio of The Legal Intelligencer (June 3, 2015).

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