CIVIL PROCEDURE – Jury verdict modified in open court :Kaminski v. Bremner, Inc. (COA 3/27/2009)

Kaminski v. Bremner, Inc.
2006-CA-002439
 03/27/2009
2009 WL 792518

Opinion by Judge Nickell; Judges Moore and Stumbo concurred.

The Court affirmed a judgment of the circuit court entered subsequent to jury verdict finding in favor of appellee on his claim that he was terminated for filing a workers’ compensation claim and an order denying a motion for a new trial alleging juror misconduct and irregularities in the jury verdict.

The Court first held that the modification of the jury verdict by the foreman in open court did not constitute reversible error and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s motion for a new trial. The trial court’s action in invalidating the original verdict and sending jurors back to the jury room sanitized any irregularity or inconsistency.

The Court next held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in choosing to clarify a juror’s agreement with the verdict instead of sending jurors back to the jury room for a third time. Further, the phraseology used by the trial court in posing the oral polling inquiry did not alter how each individual juror had already voted.

The Court finally held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in crafting the written jury instructions. Appellant’s version was essentially the same as the one given by the Court, it was not confusing, it correctly reflected the law, and appellant accepted the instruction without complaint and did not suggest that it be clarified before jurors were returned to the jury room to resume deliberations.

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