Jury duty may seem like an inconvenience, but it is an important civic duty. One vital component of jury duty is the obligation to keep information about the case confidential. As a practical matter, this means not discussing, emailing, texting, blogging, tweeting, or otherwise posting on social media about the case.
Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal recently dealt with a case in which jurors were explicitly told not to communicate with anyone about the case (including via social media), but one juror posted a number of tweets on Twitter during the days of jury selection and trial. While the juror did not name the case or give specific details, he did mention his discontent with being selected for jury duty and his general dismay at being at the courthouse all day. The juror also implied that he may have given partial or careless answers to some questions. He also expressed his thoughts about the perceived greed of “everyone” trying “anything” for money.
The case is Murphy v. Roth, and it began when the plaintiff sued the defendant for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. The plaintiff alleged that she was rear-ended by a ‘phantom vehicle’ that was never found, and she then began to turn and was hit by the defendant.
The defendant argued that he was not at fault and that the plaintiff, in fact, struck him first. The jury ultimately sided with the plaintiff and awarded her $27,000 for past and future medical expenses but nothing for pain and suffering. It is important to note that the jury determined that the plaintiff was partly at fault for the accident, and her original award of $39,000 was reduced accordingly. This is because Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that a plaintiff’s recovery will be limited by his or her proportion of fault.
The plaintiff subsequently appealed, claiming that a juror lied during jury selection and violated the court order that prohibited jurors from communicating about the case. The plaintiff further argued that the juror’s tweets highlighted an obvious bias against the plaintiff’s case.
The juror insisted his tweets were not about the plaintiff’s case. Instead, his disdain for the legal system was based on a lawsuit that had recently been filed against his father after the duo were involved in a car wreck a few months earlier. He had not revealed this fact during jury selection.
Upon examining the facts, the court held that the record was insufficient to show that the juror’s tweets were material to the outcome of the case. Specifically, the court explained that the plaintiff did not meet the burden of proof when it came to establishing that the juror’s actions prejudiced the outcome of the case.
If you or someone close to you has been injured in in automobile accident, it is important to seek the help of a skilled Miami car accident attorney who can assess the merits of your case. We proudly represent clients throughout South Florida, and we can represent you as well. For more information, do not hesitate to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or reach out to us online today.
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Woman Gets New Trial in a Florida Delivery Van Accident Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, November 3, 2016
Negligent Entrustment and Vicarious Liability in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, November 3, 2016
Florida Diving Board Accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, November 3, 2016