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Huckle v. Kimble

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Brief Fact Summary. The Defendants appeals from denial of a motion for a new trial based on the grounds of jury misconduct.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Jury misconduct is grounds for a motion for a new trial.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

Where the pleadings in an action present several controverted issues, and at the trial some of the issues are determined and others either are not determined or are determined improperly, and where the issues determined and those not determined are sufficiently distinct from each other that there is no necessity of trying all the issues in order to determine those which had not been determined, there is no occasion to retry the issues determined.

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Facts. The Plaintiff brought suit against the Defendants for injuries sustained when the Plaintiff was caught between a truck driven by one of the Defendants and a pillar in the grain elevator driveway where Plaintiff worked. The Plaintiff was awarded judgment and the Defendants appealed, citing jury misconduct as one of its grounds for retrial. At the hearing for the motion, jury members were questioned and cross-examined and explained their method of arriving at the verdict. The Defendants’ motion for a new trial was denied.

Issue. Whether Defendants’ motion for a new trial citing jury misconduct was wrongfully denied.

Held. Yes. The trial court erred in overruling the Defendants’ motion for a new trial.

Discussion. The jurors each wrote an amount on a piece of paper as to what they thought would be fair to find for the Plaintiff. The amounts were added up and divided by twelve and the verdict and award was found for the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff tried to counteract any wrongdoing in the jury’s method of reaching verdict and award in his favor. Plaintiff claimed that on cross-examination, when they were asked whether after the award amount had been reached, whether they though it was fair -they all testified “yes”. Because the evidence showed that this method allowed the amount awarded to be the verdict, the trial court erred in overruling Defendant’s motion for a new trial.

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