I read an interesting piece on the WFTV.com website yesterday indicating that a mistrial had been granted on Friday in a million-dollar motorcycle accident case that is being tried against Orange County government. Apparently, the motorcyclist lost his leg in 2006 when an Orange County worker in a County vehicle hit him while he was riding and severed his leg.
According to the article, it was a week-long trial. After jurors deliberated for seven hours on Friday, the jurors were told that they would have to come back on Monday. Apparently, one of the jurors told the judge that returning on Monday was impossible for her due to work obligations. She said she would be fired if she missed work. In response, the judge declared a mistrial.
As an Orlando accident attorney with 18 years’ experience trying cases, I can tell you that mistrials are unbelievably frustrating. First, a mistrial represents a complete waste of everyone’s time — lawyers, clients, witnesses, court personnel, judges, everyone. Second, a mistrial represents a huge expense to both sides. Witnesses — and particularly expert witnesses — cost a lot of money to bring to trial. All of these folks will have to be brought to the Orange County courthouse a second time, now.
After reading the WFTV piece, I am left with questions, and wanting additional information. For example:
* What evidence that this juror would REALLY have been fired if she did not return to work on Monday?
* Did the juror disclose this information to the Court and the lawyers during jury selection?
* How late in the day were the jurors allowed to deliberate on Friday night?
* How close were they to reaching a verdict when the Court session were closed on Friday?
* Why was the alternate juror released ahead of the verdict?
It will be interesting to learn more about this case, and the circumstances of the mistrial. There may be several cautionary lessons for other trial lawyers in how all of this occurred.
If you have any questions regarding motorcycle accident cases, or personal injury trials, in Orange County, Florida, call Winter Park personal injury attorney Kim Cullen at 407-644-4444.