A rare medical malpractice trial where the issue was on damages: the hospital admitted fault and the jury awarded a modest – by medical malpractice trial standards where the injuries are usually catastrophic or the loss of a loved one – verdict of $250,000 which was affirmed on appeal in South Carolina.
The defendant made an interesting argument on appeal, arguing that the trial court should have excused “all potential jurors who owed a debt” to the hospital. The trial court removed the four venire members against whom the hospital held civil judgments but denied the hospital’s request to remove others whose debts to AnMed were in default. It is incredible how many people owe debts to the hospital. I can see a juror or two. The hospital asked the appellate court for a bright-line rule to categorically exclude from jury service all prospective jurors who are in debt to a party in the lawsuit.
Appellate courts have bright-line rules. So they relied on the catchall “Does any member feel like they have any interest, sensitivity, bias, or prejudice which would prevent you from being a fair and impartial juror in this case?”
I agree with the holding, but would it be a better idea to exclude those jurors who the hospital had sent to a collections agency? Even I admit that it would be.
You can read the full opinion here.