When a case is to be decided by a jury rather than a judge, the parties must engage in the process of jury selection prior to trial. During the process, the parties will attempt to determine whether any potential jurors harbor explicit or implicit biases that may render them unable to make objective decisions and, if so, may seek to preemptively strike them from serving on the jury. If a court inappropriately denies a party’s request to strike a juror, it may result in an unfair trial, as demonstrated in a ruling recently issued by a Florida court in a truck accident case. If you were hurt in a collision involving a commercial truck, it is advisable to speak to a Florida truck accident lawyer regarding your rights.
The History of the Case
Reportedly, the plaintiff’s decedent was driving on a highway through a construction zone. He was following the defendant motorist. The defendant truck driver was approaching from the opposite direction. The defendant motorist then swerved into the defendant truck driver’s lane, sideswiping the truck and causing it to jackknife and crash into the decedent’s vehicle. The decedent died due to the injuries sustained in the accident, and his wife, the plaintiff, filed a lawsuit against the defendants.
It is alleged that during jury selection, the plaintiff sought to use a peremptory strike against a juror whose husband had worked in the trucking industry. The trial court denied the strike due to the fact that the juror was the only African-American on the panel, and the plaintiff failed to meet the race-neutral test established by Florida case law. The issue was revisited prior to trial, but the court maintained its position. The jury ultimately returned a verdict for the plaintiff but found the defendant truck driver was not liable. The plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, which the court granted. The defendants then appealed.
Remedies for Denials of Pre-emptory Challenges
Under Florida law, a court’s decision to grant a new trial is typically reviewed on an abuse of discretion standard. The discretion decreases, however, the closer an issue becomes to being purely legal in nature. In the subject case, one of the reasons the trial court cited in granting a new trial was its determination that it improperly applied the applicable standard when denying the plaintiff’s peremptory challenge.
The court explained that as the underlying conclusion was legal in nature, the court’s standard of review was de novo. The court explained that in analyzing a race-based objection to a peremptory challenge, it must ultimately determine whether the proffered reason for the challenge is a mere pretext. In the subject case, the court determined that the trial court improperly denied the plaintiff’s strike but ultimately determined that a new trial was not necessary for that reason.
Meet with a Seasoned Truck Accident Lawyer in Florida
Accidents involving commercial trucks often involve catastrophic injuries that, unfortunately, are often fatal. If you were injured or lost a loved one due to a crash with a truck, you may be owed compensation and should meet with an attorney. Jarrett Blakeley is a seasoned Florida truck accident lawyer who can assess the circumstances surrounding your losses and aid you in seeking a favorable outcome. You can contact Mr. Blakeley at (800) 602-5000 or via the form online to set up a conference.