An unusual medical malpractice trial resulted in an appeal all the way to the state’s Supreme Court, which rendered its verdict last week as to whether a new trial needed to be ordered. Learn more below about what happened in this bizarre trial that prompted it to reach the attention of the Iowa Supreme Court.
The trial in the district court involved two physicians on trial for separate medical malpractice claims. During the proceedings, one of the jurors fainted. One of the physicians aided the juror, who recovered and was excused. The other physician did not take any action.
The judge then interviewed each juror on an individual basis (with attorneys of both sides present) and away from the other jurors in order to determine if they could still be fair and neutral in their assessment of the cases. All jurors affirmed that they would be able to be impartial. The plaintiffs’ motion for a mistrial was denied and the proceedings continued.
The jury returned verdicts in favor of both defendant physicians. The plaintiffs appealed to the court of appeals, which, after determining that the integrity of the trial was compromised, reversed the decision of the trial court and ordered a new trial for both defendants.
The defendant physician who assisted the juror that had fainted accepted the ruling of the the court of appeals. However, the other physician appealed the ruling of the court of appeals to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court noted that the cases against the two physicians on trial dealt with two separate instances of medical malpractice, and that it believed that the actions of the other defendant did not create "a sense of undue goodwill and respect in the jury toward the medical profession generally that would be a sufficient basis for overturning the district court’s exercise of discretion."