A medical malpractice case that was appealed to the Supreme Court in Oregon not only saw the success of the plaintiff’s appeal, but also a change in Oregon law with regard to the way juries must render verdicts in trial courts in the state.
"For decades, circuit court judges across the state have been telling 12-person juries that in order to reach a lawful verdict in a civil case, at least nine of the same jurors must agree on the answers to each of the questions before them," according to Oregon Live.
In medical malpractice suits, this rule created situations where even if 9 of the same jurors agreed one one or more components of the verdict, if 9 different jurors agreed on a different component of the verdict, the verdict would not be lawful, and thus would not be rendered. This is exactly what happened in the personal injury case that was appealed to the state’s Supreme Court.
In 2007, Amber Kennedy was in the passenger seat of a vehicle when the vehicle was struck on the passenger side by Kelsey Wheeler. Kennedy suffered extensive and lasting damage. She missed work, and her quality of life was affected. Kennedy sued.
The trial was concluded in April 2011. At least 9 jurors agreed on the questions of whether Wheeler’s driving injured Kennedy, the amount of economic damages Kennedy should receive ($65,386), and the amount of non-economic damages she should receive ($300,000).
"But according to Wheeler’s defense attorney, the problem was that not all of the nine jurors who agreed on the third question [economic damages] had agreed on the second question [non-economic damages]."
Despite this fact, the trial court judge found the verdict lawful. Wheeler appealed, and the appellate court threw out the verdict. The case was appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, which found that the trial court’s verdict was lawful. This means that no longer in Oregon will 9 of the same jurors have to agree on all aspects of the verdict in order for it to be lawful, which will help medical malpractice victims obtain the compensation to which they are entitled.