A medical negligence client intake form, case-specific juror questionnaire, and over 6 pages of sample plaintiff voir dire questions.

By Donald E. Woody

Excerpted from Personal Injury Trial Notebook

§1:03.1 Practice Tools: Alternate Client Questionnaire—Medical Negligence Intake Form

Client Questionnaire
Medical Negligence Intake Form

Date:                                     Time:                                                   Case Rating:

Time: _____ to _____

                                 Accept     Pending     Decline     Refer

(Caller)  Mr/Mrs/Ms:                                                                         Relationship to Patient:

Patient:                                                                                              M/F          Hgt          Wgt

Address:

E-mail:                                                                                              Spouse:

Home Phone:                                                                                    D.O.B.:                  Age:

Employment:                                                                                    Children:

Missed Work Pay Scale:                                                    Work Phone:

Injuries Sustained:

Surgery/Host:

Current Condition/Damages:

Prognosis:

What they claim was done wrong:

Complaint Against:                                                        Conflict: Y/N

1st Treating Physician:                                                                      Institution:

Date of Treatment:                                                             Date of Last Treatment:

Dx                                                                                     Tx

Px  

2nd Treating Physician                                                                     Institution:

Date of Treatment                                                              Date of Last Treatment

Dx                                                                                     Tx

Px

3rd Treating Physician                                                                      Institution:

Date of Treatment:                                                             Date of Last Treatment:

Dx                                                                                     Tx

Px  

Estimated Med Bills                                                                          Medicare/Medicaid

Prior Attorneys Contacted:                                                 Referral:

Related Claims Settlements                                       Advise of 2 year statute of limitations (SOL)

Prior Head Injury:

History of Contact Sports:

Military Job Description/Duties/Location:

§5:22 Juror Questionnaire—Medical Negligence

The purpose of this questionnaire is to assist the court in selecting juries. The questionnaire is being sent to you in advance of jury selection to save time during the jury selection process. It will only be used for jury selection and may not be made available to the pubic.

INSTRUCTIONS

1.       Complete, sign, and return within 3 days of receipt to:

Clerk, _____________ County Circuit Court

Attn: Jury Administrator

______________________________

______________________________

2.       Use a black pen.

Juror’s Name: (Print) ____________________

Mailing Address:_____________             Permanent Address (If Different): _________________

(Street)_______________________                            (Street)____________________________

(City, state & zip)_________________                (City, state & zip)________________________

(County)_____________________                             (County)____________________________

Telephone Numbers: Home:____________________                      Work:__________________

Do you rent or own (purchasing)?_____                           Years at this address:_____

Juror’s age:_____

How would you describe the condition of your health?__________________________________

If you have any physical or medical problems which would make jury duty difficult or which require accommodation, please explain them here:___________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

1.            Juror’s education: (please check most appropriate)

___ less than 6th grade                             ___technical, business or two-year degree

___ more than 6th grade but no high school diploma

___ high school graduate           ___some college but no degree

___four-year college degree in _______________

___post-graduate work or degree in __________

2.       List any special training or skills you have:

3.       What is you current job status? (Please check most appropriate answer)

____working full-time                              ____ unemployed                 ____homemaker

____working part-time                             ____ retired                          ____ full-time student

4.       Who is your present (or most recent) employer?

5.       What is your present (most recent) job title?

6.       Describe the duties of your current (or most recent) job:

7.       If retired, disabled, or unemployed, indicate the date of your retirement or your latest employment:

8.       Has your occupation changed in the last five years?

If yes, indicate all occupations held in the last five years:

9.       List all other types of jobs you have had throughout your life (not listed above):

10.     Have you ever served in the military?      If yes, indicate the following:

branch of service ______________                        years of service _______________

rank at discharge ______________                         form of discharge _____________

11.     Juror’s marital status:

____ single, never married        ____ widow/widower

____ single but previously married for ____ years ____        other

____ currently married, have been for ____ years

12.     If currently married, provide the following information:

a.       Spouse’s education:

b.       Spouse’s present employment status:

c.       Spouse’s present occupation and employer:

d.       Other types of jobs your spouse has held:

13.     If you have children, please give their ages, gender, and occupations:

Some of the questions below refer to your “family.” This is intended to include your mother, father, sisters, brothers, children, and spouse.

14.    Other than the military, have you or any member of your family been employed by the United States government or any state or local government? ____ yes        _____ no

If yes, who was so employed, when and where?

15.     Have you or any member of your family ever worked for a law enforcement organization?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, who was so employed, when and where?

16.    What are your hobbies, special interests, recreational pastimes and other spare-time activities, including sports?

17.     What is/are your primary source(s) of news?

____ TV      ____ Newspaper ____ Radio

____ Magazines          ____ Other

What magazines and newspapers do you regularly read?

18.     Have you ever been a member of a professional or job-related organization (including labor unions)?     ____ yes ____ no

If yes, identify the organization(s)

19.     What social, political, civic, religious, and other organizations do you belong to or are you associated with?

20.     Are you or any member of your family a member of any group which encourages strict enforcement of criminal laws or modification of our present laws such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Citizens Against Violence (CAVE)?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, identify the family member (by relationship) and the group to which he/she belongs:

21.     What are your favorite television shows/radio programs?

22.     Have you displayed any bumper stickers on your automobile in the last twelve months?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please list each bumper sticker:

23.     Have you or any member of your family ever suffered long-term or permanent disability?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

24.     Have you previously served on a jury?    ____ yes ____ no

If so, what type of case was it?  ____ criminal        ____ civil

Was a verdict reached?              ____ yes ____ no

What was the verdict?

Did anything happen during your previous jury service which might affect your ability to make a decision if you are selected as a juror during this term of court?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

25.     Have you ever been a witness in a civil or criminal trial?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

26.     Have you or anyone in your family ever been involved in a lawsuit, including a suit involving a worker’s compensation claim?
____ yes ____ no

If yes, indicate the following:

Family member involved: (relationship)

Was that person the plaintiff (person who sues) or the defendant?

What type of case was it? (example, auto accident)

Who was your or your family member’s lawyer?

27.     Have you ever considered bringing a lawsuit or claim, or felt like you had a good reason to sue, but decided not to?

____ yes      ____ no

If yes, please explain.

28.     If you thought you were injured because of the fault of someone else, would you consider bringing a lawsuit?

____ yes      ____ no

If no, please explain:

29.     Have you or a member of your immediate family ever filed a claim with an insurance company (other than a health insurance claim)?
____ yes ____ no

If yes, what was the nature of the claim and when was it filed?

Was the claim paid? If not, how was the matter resolved?

30.    Have you or any close friends or relatives ever been involved in a case of medical malpractice/medical negligence?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain who was involved, when, and briefly describe what happened.

Was anyone injured?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

31.     Have you or anyone in your family worked in the health care field?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, explain when, where, for whom, and for how long:

32.    Have you or anyone in your family ever been in a dispute with a physician, nurse, or hospital?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

33.   Have you or anyone in your family ever witnessed an incident of medical negligence/medical malpractice?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

34.    Have you or anyone in your family witnessed any type of accident or incident where someone was severely injured or killed?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

35.    Are there any kinds of lawsuits which you think are unfair or unjust and should not be brought to court?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

36.    Do you believe that any of the following damages should never be awarded in any case, regardless of the circumstance:

Lost Wages

Medical Expenses

Pain and Suffering

Emotional Distress

Punitive Damages

____ yes ____ no

If yes to any of them, please state which ones should never be awarded and the reason for your answer:

37.     How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the legal system with the way it treats someone who has brought a lawsuit?

____ very satisfied ____ satisfied ____ no opinion ____ dissatisfied ___ very dissatisfied

If dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, please explain:

38.     How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the legal system with the way it treats someone who has been sued?

____ very satisfied ____ satisfied ____ no opinion ____ dissatisfied ___ very dissatisfied

If dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, please explain:

39.     Do you agree or disagree with the statement, “Juries can be trusted to make fair awards in personal injury cases.”?

____ agree                  ____ disagree

If you disagreed, please explain:

40.    Which of the following best describes your opinion of the care exercised by physicians, nurses, and hospitals in caring for their patients?

____ Always careful ____ Sometimes careful ____ Never careful ____ No opinion

Please explain:

41.     What complaints, if any, do you have about physicians, nurses, or hospitals?

____ Complaints:

____ No Complaints

42.     Do you believe that any governmental action should be taken regarding the care exercised by physicians/nurses/hospitals?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

43.     Have you ever gotten angry at a physician/nurse/hospital?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

44.    Are you familiar with any lawsuit for claims involving a claim of medical negligence/medical malpractice?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain:

45.    Have you or any family member ever been convicted of a crime other than a traffic offense?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, please explain who was convicted of what crime.

If you were convicted of a crime, what was the nature of the crime charged?

 Was the crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year?

____ yes ____ no

If yes, were your civil rights restored and, if so, in what manner?

46.     Have you or anyone in your family ever worked for

                                                                   Yes       No

A lawyer or law firm              ____     ____

An insurance company         ____     ____

The court system                  ____     ____

A large corporation                ____     ____

A doctor, hospital, or

health care organization        ____    ____

47.     Corporations have the same rights under the laws as any individual. Do you feel that you can be fair to both sides in a lawsuit that involves an individual on one side and a company or corporation on the other?

48.    Would any personal experiences prevent you from being fair to both sides in a case involving a person with a personal injury or disability?

49.     Jurors are often required to decide which witnesses to believe and which not to believe. In deciding believability, jurors may consider how the witnesses presented themselves, certain factors in the witnesses’ background, and many other factors. However, you may not judge believability of a witness simply based on that person’s occupation or position in life.

Understanding these rules, would you be able to judge the believability of physicians or expert witnesses by the same standard as any other witness?

____ yes, I can                          ____ no, I cannot

50.     Regardless of any opinion you may have concerning a particular law, would you be able to set aside your feelings and follow the law as stated by the judge?

____ yes ____ no

51.     If you desire to do so, you may explain any of your answers here:

52.   Is there any additional information about you that the court should know?

Thank you again for your cooperation. Please read the following and sign below.

The answers provided above are truthful and complete to the best of my ability. I understand that knowingly giving a false answer may subject me to the penalties for perjury.

SIGN HERE ____________________________________

JUROR’S SIGNATURE

COMPLETE AND RETURN WITHIN 3 DAYS OF RECEIPT

§5:60 Sample Voir Dire Questions—Medical Negligence—Plaintiff

I.        INTRODUCTION

A.      Introduce yourself, others involved in trying the case and who will be at counsel table during trial except the plaintiff.

B.       Explain Voir Dire Process

1.       Importance

a.       The attorney’s role is to present the facts;

b.       The jury has the exclusive power to decide the facts;

c.       The process is therefore designed to discover likes, dislikes, preferences, opinions, and attitudes;

d.       Not intended to pry;

e.       Candid answers will result in the selection of an unbiased jury.

II.       PREJUDICE

A.      We all have prejudices. Prejudice is part of our personality structure. The question is not are we prejudiced, but what are we prejudiced about?

B.      Prejudice/bias can be as serious as race, sex, politics, and religion and as trivial as which is the best restaurant to go out to eat on a Saturday night!

C.     This is a medical negligence case. Someone here may have had a lifesaving experience involving a doctor or other health care provider such that he or she could never find against a doctor, regardless of the facts. Therefore, he/she is prejudiced in favor of health care providers. There is nothing wrong with this; however, would it be fair for that person to sit on this jury? That is the type of biases or prejudices that we are going to try to explore.

D.      The problem is that our prejudice, whatever it may be, may lie lurking at the bottom of our unconscious and may slowly ooze up and color our thinking without our ever knowing it. Most jurors are hesitant to admit their prejudices; instead, holding back and in their mind insisting that what might be prejudicial are only well-founded opinions. However, if you are not sure, please speak up. I want to know your well-founded opinions as well as your prejudices.

E.       If we refuse to disclose our prejudices, we are being unfair to the litigants, the court, fellow jurors, and the justice system.

F.       A prejudicial mind is like opening the door to a teenager’s closet. Nothing can get in; when the door is open, the contents simply spill out. Therefore, I cannot emphasize the influence of prejudice any stronger than to say that no matter how skillfully a lawyer may present his case, the client will not win if you are asked to decide an issue against your own self-interests and/or prejudices.

III.     BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CASE

John Roberts was referred by his dentist to Dr. William Rolf who began treating a condition in his mouth. A biopsy was obtained and read by Dr. Steven Columbia. Three and one-half months later, another biopsy was obtained and a diagnosis of cancer was made. Invasive medical treatment followed including surgery and radiation. Anyone familiar with this case or any aspect of it?

IV.     DEFENDANTS AND THEIR ATTORNEYS

1.       Dr. William Rolf and Rolf, Collins, Quinn, & Johnson, DDS, PC. are represented by Kurt Wilson of the law firm of _________________________ located in Kansas City, Missouri. Other members of this firm include: ___________________. Has anyone ever been represented by any of these lawyers? Is anyone social friends or acquaintances of these lawyers? Is anyone related to any of these lawyers?

2.       Dr. William Rolf is an employee of Rolf, Collins, Quinn & Johnson, DDS, P.C., and is an oral surgeon.

a.       Knowledge of him?

b.       Patient of his?

c.       Family member been patient of his?

3.       Rolf, Collins, Quinn, & Johnson, DDS, P.C., is a corporation.

a.      Is anyone or member of family currently a stockholder in a closely held corporation?

b.       Anyone currently or in the past do business as a corporation?

c.      Anyone have any belief, feeling, or attitude about corporations, either for or against, which cause you to treat a corporation differently from an individual party in a lawsuit?

d.      If the court instructs you that Rolf, Collins, Quinn, & Johnson, DDS, P.C., is responsible for the actions of its employee doctor, including Dr. Rolf, and you find that Dr. Rolf was negligent as submitted in the court’s instructions, would you be able to return a verdict against this corporation?

4.      Dr. Stuart Wilson and St. George’s Physicians & Clinics, Inc. are represented by Michael J. Collar and Linda Small of the law firm of _________________________. Other members of their firm include _____________________________________. Has anyone ever been represented by any of these lawyers? Is anyone social friends or acquaintance of these lawyers? Is anyone related to these lawyers?

5.       Dr. Stuart Wilson is an employee of St. George’s Physicians & Clinics, Inc., and is a pathologist.

a.       Knowledge of him?

b.       Patient of his?

c.       Family member been patient of his?

6.      St. George’s Physicians & Clinics, Inc., is a corporation.

7.      If the court instructs you that the St. George’s Physicians & Clinics, Inc. is responsible for the actions of its employee doctor, including Dr. Wilson, and you find that Dr. Wilson was negligent as submitted in the court’s instructions, would you be able to return a verdict against this corporation?

8.      Dr. Rolf graduated #1 in his class. He has received numerous awards. He was Physician of the Year in 2001, past President of Missouri Society of Oral Surgeons, edited the Journal of Missouri Dental Society for 10 years. He has authored numerous articles. Anyone here believe that with such credentials, it is less likely Dr. Rolf would or could make a mistake? Would you have difficulty finding against him simply because of his credentials?

9.      Dr. Wilson is a graduate of Washington University and completed his residency at Barnes Hospital. He is a Fellow of American College of Pathologists, Fellow of American Society of  Clinical Pathologists. Anyone here believe that with such credentials, it is less likely that Dr. Wilson would or could make a mistake? Would you have any difficulty finding against him simply because of his credentials?

V.      PLAINTIFF AND HIS ATTORNEYS

A.      John Roberts

1.      John and Pat for many years were residents of Springfield. They have returned, although John keeps an apartment in Kansas City due to his employment. John is currently 52 years of age. He has both BS and MBA degrees from SMSU. He is employed with Wingnut of America as Director of Sales. He has been married to Pat Roberts for over 30 years. He served with the U. S. Navy and has 20 years with the U. S. Naval Reserve.

2.      Pat is a schoolteacher, specializing in special education reading. She has a B.S. degree in Education from SMSU and a Masters degree in Reading from Drury.

a.       Know them?

3.      John and Pat have two children, (NAME CHILDREN). Do you know any of John’s children?

B.     John is represented by me and Bill Stellar of the law firm of __________ of Springfield, Missouri. Other members of this firm are: __________. Is anyone currently represented by any lawyer in this firm?

VI.     INSURANCE QUESTION

Is any member of the panel or members of their immediate family an officer, director, agent, or employee of Medical Defense Insurance Company?

VII.    MEDICAL BIAS

A.      Is anyone related to a health care provider, i.e., a doctor, nurse, LPN, lab tech, x-ray technician, etc.?

1.      How do you feel about the fact that plaintiff has filed a medical malpractice suit?

2.       That treatment is being called into question?

3.      Do you feel because of your relationship to a health care provider that, regardless of the allegations made, it would be difficult for you to render a verdict against a health care provider?

B.       Standards

1.       How many of you have standards which govern your employment?

a.       Building codes

b.       Truck drivers

c.       Teachers

d.       Nurses

e.       Employment standards

f.        Accountants

g.       Other

2.       If a person has standards or guidelines to follow and he/she fails to do so, should he/she be held responsible for such failure?

a.       Under what circumstances?

b.       Any exceptions? For example, if a trucking firm, through negligence, permits trucks to go out exceeding weight limit and, because of that violation, the vehicle is not safe to drive and an accident occurs, is the trucking firm responsible?

3.       Do you believe doctors have standards?

a.       Should they have standards?

b.       If standards require doctors to use that degree of skill and learning ordinarily used by members of their profession under similar circumstances:

          •         Reasonable standard?

          •         If doctor violates that standard, should he be held accountable?

          •         To same extent as trucking firm?

4.       Is there anyone here who feels if a doctor has an explanation, no matter what it is, that such an explanation justifies the care given so that he should not be answerable in damages for his treatment? In other words, can a doctor’s discretion, regardless of what it is, justify the care given in all cases hereby making it impossible for you to render a verdict against a physician?

C.       Try to get a discussion going as to what we look for when we see a doctor. Expect attention to detail?

1.       Attention to Detail

a.       If doctors do not attend to detail, should they be responsible? Under what circumstances?

2.       Open mind

3.       Responsive to patient concerns

D.      What are the responsibilities of patient?

1.       Follow doctor’s advice

2.       Other

E.       Is there anyone here who feels that because of the benefits provided by health care providers, plaintiffs should not be able to sue health care providers for damages, regardless of the facts in a given case or regardless of how inadequate the care may be?

F.       Does anyone have specialized training in the medical field as a nurse, therapist, technician, etc.?

1.       How do you feel? What do you think about malpractice cases?

G.      Does anyone here feel or think medical negligence cases should be abolished or done away with?

H.      From time to time we have heard about cases which have been characterized or referred to as medical malpractice cases. I do not like that term because I think jurors may believe that it implies intentional conduct. Instead, I refer to such cases as medical negligence cases. A medical negligence case involves an alleged failure to exercise a requisite standard of care.

1.       Is there anyone here who believes that, before a plaintiff can recover from a doctor or a hospital, the patient must prove the doctor intended the patient to be harmed? To put it another way, is there anyone here who believes that a doctor is responsible only for intentional misconduct?

2.      Is there anyone here who believes that to find against a physician automatically labels the physician as a bad or evil person reflective upon his character in a detrimental way, thereby making it difficult, if not impossible, to find against a doctor?

3.       Does anyone here quarrel with the proposition that if an individual is negligent and fails to follow the rules of the road, such as runs a stoplight, falls asleep at the wheel, drives while intoxicated or drives too fast, and such conduct while negligent and careless, injures another person, that person should not be held responsible? Similarly, while the driver is not considered to be a bad person, only a negligent person, if a doctor fails to follow acceptable rules of standard of care, he has not committed anything intentionally, he has only failed to use the requisite care? Does anyone feel that while he/she could find the driver responsible, he/she could not find a health care provider responsible?

I.        Is there anyone here who feels that a doctor is not responsible if he is only negligent by failing to exercise the appropriate standard of care? Do you understand that if a doctor provides treatment that deviates from acceptable standards of care, the doctor is negligent and the patient can therefore recover? Does anyone have problems with that proposition?

J.        Cancer case. Misdiagnosis of cancer:

1.       Understand that plaintiffs do not have to prove the defendant doctors gave him cancer?

2.       Doctors don’t give patients cancer. That being the case, does it trouble anyone that a medical negligence case has been filed because of misdiagnosis?

3.       Any disagree with proposition that a delay of diagnosis can cause cancer to develop or worsen, affecting the cure?

4.       While the doctor did not cause the disease, if delay in diagnosis is negligent, thereby causing the disease to develop and worsen, resulting in damage to the patient, should doctor then be responsible for that damage?

K.      Has anyone experienced what you concluded was poor medical treatment?

L.       Tort Reform:

1.      Anyone read in papers or see on TV anything characterized as the “malpractice crisis” in the court system?

2.       Anyone believe that verdicts are either too high or too low?

3.       Lawyers:

a.       We have all heard lawyer jokes, comments, etc. Does anyone have any particular dislike of lawyers that translates in an inability to be fair to the parties?

b.       Anyone have a particular dislike of lawyers who represent the injured?

c.       Anyone offended by the court system built on money damages, since that is the only redress I can ask you to award my client?

4.       Anyone here believe we should change the jury system?

5.       Is there anyone here who feels that there are too many frivolous lawsuits being filed?

VIII.   CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

Circumstantial evidence consists of the application of deductive reasoning to the facts of a particular case. Is there anyone here who does not believe that circumstantial evidence is acceptable as admissible evidence? Give examples as to how this works. Point out that most criminal cases are based upon circumstantial evidence.

IX.     MEDICAL TREATMENT

How many of you or members of your family have had cancer?

1.       When?

2.       Type?

3.       Where treated?

4.       How treated?

5.       Recurrence?

X.      DAMAGES

A.      One of the issues in this case will be money damages if you determine liability against the defendants. You will hear a lot of testimony about different elements of damages, and you will have to compute the amount of fair compensation for the plaintiffs. To get an idea of your background in financial matters, I would like to find out about your experiences with finances in your own life.

1.       Who manages the money in your family, (Mr. Ms., Mrs.) ___________? Who is responsible for paying the bills and writing the checks? (If he/she answers “I am,” ask the remaining series of questions about money management; if he/she answers “My husband or wife,” mark him/her down as a probable plaintiff juror and skip to the next series of questions.)

2.       What system of money management do you follow? What method have you devised for making sure the bills are paid?

3.       Do you have a budget? If yes, is your budget a weekly, monthly, or yearly budget?

4.       Do you keep a daily record of your expenses?

5.       Do you project your expenses out for the whole year?

B.       Anyone here or members of your family ever had a job adjusting claims, or had the job of trying to assess how much a particular claim is worth?

C.       Is there any member of the jury panel who has had claims made against him/her?

1.       What was the type of claim?

2.       Was there a recovery?

3.       Will it affect his/her ability to serve as a juror in this case?

D.      Is there any member of the panel who has ever made a claim for damages because of personal injuries?

1.       What kind of a claim?

2.       Was there a financial recovery?

3.       Was it an effective verdict or settlement?

4.       Are you physically recovered?

5.       Will this affect your ability to serve as a juror?

E.      What is the remedy the law allows for a person who is injured because of the carelessness of another?

XI.     ECONOMIC LOSS

A.      Medical bills past and future.

B.      Human damages, such as pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, fear, and anxiety.

1.       Is there anyone here who feels he/she simply could not put a value on this loss?

2.       Life is more than going to work and having a roof over our heads. All of us have interests, desires, and dreams. What are some of your dreams? Are your dreams and interests valuable to you?

C.      Anyone here like to jog, workout? Ever run a marathon? Important to you? If taken away, would you feel damaged?

D.      Regardless of interest, if taken away, anyone not feel damaged?

E.       Lost chance of survival.

F.       Is there anyone here who feels that people should not be entitled to resort to the jury system to settle their differences?

G.      Anyone who feels it is not right to ask for money damages for disability?

H.      Anyone here who feels he/she could not award money to compensate an individual for pain and loss of enjoyment of life?

I.       How many of you have read articles in national publications concerning controversies over the jury system and, in particular, proposals to limit a party’s right to seek damages in civil trials or limit the amount of damages which may be recoverable?

J.       How many listen regularly to radio programs such as Rush Limbaugh or Laura Schlesinger?

K.      Regardless of whether you read or heard about it, is there anyone here who feels that the jury system should be changed to limit the amount of recovery? How would you limit it?

L.       It is my belief that the evidence in this case will support a verdict exceeding 2 million dollars.

1.       Anyone scared by a figure of that amount?

2.      Anyone who could not award damages of that amount regardless of the evidence that, by merely suggesting such an amount, you become prejudiced against the plaintiff’s case?

3.       If you thought the evidence supported such an amount, could you overcome that fear?

4.      Do I have your permission to try and show you that this is a 2 million dollar case? Will you permit me to do that? Is there anyone here whose mind is not open to the possibility that I could do that?

5.      When a married person is injured, does that impose any hardship on the spouse? How?

6.       If the spouse suffers hardship as well, has she been damaged?

7.       Anyone not award damages to Mrs. Roberts simply because she is married to John?

XII.    SYMPATHIES

A.      No one is asking you to ignore the natural sympathy you may have for anyone who has been permanently injured, but you cannot put yourself in their shoes and say I would not give up my life, my pursuit of happiness for __________ dollars! You cannot base a verdict on what you would take. Instead, if you find for the plaintiff, you must base the verdict on his loss.

1.      Anyone not understand? Anyone not agree? Anyone have a problem with this?

B.      Sympathy goes two ways. It is natural for some of us to say I could make a mistake and I could be careless and someday I may be sued and brought into court. I might hurt somebody some day. You might have thoughts that I would not want someone getting a verdict for millions of dollars against me. In other words, there is the “there but for the grace of God go I” thought process. Can you put aside those kinds of sympathies? The sympathy that I sure would hate to be a defendant in a civil action. Can we put that aside and instead try and decide the issues on what the evidence will support?

C.     Is there anyone here who does not agree that, if you find for the plaintiff John Roberts, he has the right to a verdict for the full amount of his loss which may mean deciding that a nice person was negligent for which reputable clinics and/or corporations may be responsible? Does anyone feel that corporations should not be responsible for the mistakes of their employees?

D.      Is there anyone here who feels that once they get into the jury room they are not going to be able to set aside natural feelings or sympathies? Can you award full justice, even if it means millions of dollars?

E.       Finality of judgment:

1.       Do you understand that if you find in favor of John and Pat, the verdict must last their lifetime?

2.       Do you understand that he cannot come back at a later date?

3.       Do you understand your responsibilities to value past and future losses?

4.       Do you understand that the only compensation you can award is in the form of money?

F.      While this may be interesting, a good experience or an education, your function is very real.

1.       Is there anyone here who thinks the job will be easy?

2.       Is there anyone here who thinks it will be too hard?

3.       Is there anyone here who feels he/she does not have the patience to devote the time and attention necessary to give all parties justice in this case?

G.      Perception of the civil justice system.

1.       Ever see the movie The Verdict with Paul Newman? What did you think?

2.       Read the book A Civil Action or see the movie with John Travolta? What did you think?

XIII.   MISCELLANEOUS

A.      Burden of Proof: Explain this is a civil case as opposed to a criminal case. In a criminal case, in order to convict the defendant, the jury has to believe the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. However, since this is a civil case, the standard of the burden of proof is that it is what is more believable according to the court’s instructions. Is there anyone here who does not understand the difference?

B.      I have already touched upon this but there is the difference of motive. In criminal cases there is bad intent; however, in civil cases, the plaintiff does not have to prove evil, bad, or any intent in order to recover. Instead, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant failed to exercise that degree of skill and learning ordinarily exercised by members of the defendant’s profession in the same or similar circumstances.

C.      Has any juror ever served on jury duty in a civil case? If so, what was the nature of the prior jury experience and the outcome of the case?

D.      Will you be able to follow the judge’s instructions, regardless of whether you agree with them or not?


Donald E. Woody practices in Springfield, Missouri, with Hall, Ansley, Rodgers, and Sweeney, where he represents both plaintiffs and defendants in his trial practice. Mr. Woody specializes in medical malpractice, personal injury, products liability, and business litigation cases, and has won and settled several million-dollar cases in those areas of expertise.

He has written and lectured on numerous trial topics for the state and local trial lawyers associations, and is a former president of the Springfield Area Metropolitan Bar Association.

Mr. Woody is licensed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, and all Missouri state courts. He received his AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell in 1992. He is a 1973 Order of the Coif graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, where he was Note and Comment editor.