Richards v. Overlake Hospital Medical Center

In Richards v. Overlake Hospital Medical Center, 59 Wn. App. 266, 796 P.2d 737 (Wash. Ct. App. 1990), a plaintiff, claiming medical malpractice upon birth defects in her new-born child, sought to reverse an adverse jury verdict upon claimed juror misconduct. See Richards, 796 P.2d at 740. The plaintiff alleged that one of the jurors, an individual with medical expertise, had argued to her fellow jurors that plaintiff's medical records, which had been admitted into evidence, indicated a viral infection. See Richards, 796 P.2d at 742. The plaintiff further alleged that this juror stated during deliberations her opinion that this infection, rather than any malpractice, is what likely caused the subject birth defects. See id. The Washington Court of Appeals found no misconduct, stating: "The evidence of a viral infection at the 16- to 20-week stage of the pregnancy was before the jury from the testimony of one of the doctors and in the medical reports. Juror Geisler's background was known to the parties at the time of voir dire and her "medical" knowledge was something she naturally brought in with her to the deliberations, and this was known by all the parties after voir dire. The medical records were introduced into evidence and sent to the jury room with the jury for its use in the deliberations. There was no extrinsic evidence brought into the case and thus there was no misconduct." Richards, 796 P.2d at 743.