Monday, March 12, 2007

1 Angry Man

One of my friends recently served on a jury. This friend works for a major organ transplantation program at a major hospital here in the city. He's on the administrative side of the house and to plain and simple, he's not a dummy [in fact I'm pretty sure that when I recuperating from knee surgery he came into my hospital room and stole my kidney...and my dignity].

The case was a personal injury tort case. The two plaintiffs had been in a car accident with the defendant. There were no serious injuries at all, but these two ladies went to the hospital anyway. The Doctors examined them, gave them Tylenol, and kicked them to the curb. This wasn't good enough for the Plaintiffs and they proceeded to go to hospital #2 to get a second opinion. Hospital #2: Examination, Ibuprofen, Door. Well, the Plaintiffs can't be Plaintiffs if they aren't hurt. They go to a doctor. He refuses to treat them BUT he refers them to a Chiropractor. The Chiropractor treats them. And treats them. And treats them. Over $40,000 later, the Plaintiffs brought suit seeking actual damages and pain and suffering.

I asked about Voir Dire because I was wondering how they let a guy that works for a hospital on a jury. And then we got talking about the whole trial itself. The intricate Voir Dire went something like this:

Attorney: Where do you work?
Him: Major Chicago Hospital, Organ Transplant Program
Attorney: And what do you do?
Him: IT
And that was the Voir Dire. For completeness sake, the Plaintiff's counsel had used most of their peremptory challenges bouncing off a doctor and two nurses. I highlight the Voir Dire because the Plaintiff's Attorney did not ask any substantive questions about my friend's knowledge of the practice of medicine (which is deep), his opinion of Chiropractors (which is negative), or his general disposition to the plaintiffs idiots. And like, that he was on the jury.

The star witness was the Chiropractor. According to my friend, the "doctor's" entire testimony was chocked full of medical speak. It was chocked full of medical speak to sound important to the jury. Except to the one juror who knew what the Chiropractor was really saying. The expert diagnosis: Cervical Myalgia.

Now the case is in the hands of the Jury. The early vote was 11 for the Plaintiff. 1 for the Defense. The deliberations began as the uneducated wanted to give buckets of money to the Plaintiffs. 'Didn't you hear about their pain...their doctor's visits...and that horrible diagnosis.'

A sidebar: My friend has been at the Major Hospital in their organ harvesting transplant program for some time now. He works with World Class surgeons. Chiropractors are not World Class surgeons. World Class surgeons view Chiropractors with great disdain. World Class surgeons mock Chiropractors on an open and continual basis. Anyone who works with World Class surgeons (or regular doctors...their nurses...or the doctors secretaries) are ingrained with the notion that Chiropractors are just glorified therapists and are to be treated as such.

Back to the Deliberations: My friend's work was cut out for him. But he enjoys a good fight and a good laugh at the expense of idiots.
Juror: How can we not give them the money? You heard the Chiropractor: they had Cervical Myalgia!
My Friend: He was using big words to impress you. Do you know what Cervical Myalgia means?
My Friend: Neck Pain. 'Cervical' is neck. 'My' is muscle. 'Algia' is pain. They had Neck Muscle Pain.
The deliberations went on through the afternoon and into the night. Much to the dismay of the parties involved and the other jurors, he held the jury over until the next day. Slowly but surely the other jurors came around to his point of view. The plaintiffs had asked for over $100,000. The verdict: No pain and suffering. No egregiously high chiropractor bills. Just a pittance for the initial doctor. When it was all said and done, the lawyers talked with the jury to find out their thoughts about what they did right and wrong. The Plaintiff's attorney tried to find out what cost him 1/3 of a lot of money:
Attorney: What if I had put an Emergency Room doctor on the stand?
My Friend: And what would he have said more than I examined her for 20 seconds?
Attorney: Umm...
My Friend: Where are you going to find an emergency room doctor that will say anything of substance?
Attorney: I believe that he would have said something
My Friend: You and I both know what you were trying to do.
Caught with his hand in the cookie jar, all the attorney could do was smile: the Plaintiff's attorney had been outsmarted by a single juror.