An appeal involving allegations of juror misconduct came before the California Court of Appeal for the Second District. In an unpublished opinion, the court focused on the presumption of prejudice upon a showing of juror misconduct and the fact it can be overcome by evidence. The court stated that juror misconduct is one ground for granting a new trial, and a three-step process is required to assess whether a new trial is appropriate. First, the court determines whether the affidavits supporting the motion are admissible. Next, the court assesses whether the facts establish juror misconduct. Finally, if there was misconduct, the trial court must determine whether prejudice resulted from the misconduct.
In the underlying incident, the plaintiff suffered injuries in a truck collision when the defendant’s semi-truck rear-ended the plaintiff’s semi-truck. Liability was not disputed, but the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries were at issue. After a jury trial, a verdict awarded the plaintiff $241,473 in damages. The defendant argued that there was juror misconduct and that as a result he had been denied a fair trial. He contended that there was insufficient evidence to support the damages award.