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Rodgers v. After School Programs, Inc.

Florida Court of Appeal, Fourth District

January 11, 2012

Janet RODGERS and Douglas Carl Rodgers, as co-personal representatives of the estate of Carl Shane Douglas Rodgers, deceased, Appellants,
v.
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS, INC., Appellee.

Rehearing Denied Feb. 17, 2012.

Page 43

Louis Thaler of Louis Thaler, P.A., Coral Gables, for appellants.

Page 44

Shelley H. Leinicke of Wicker, Smith, O'Hara, McCoy & Ford, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellee.

GROSS, J.

We write to address the claim that the plaintiffs below were entitled to interview the jurors after trial to demonstrate that juror nondisclosure of information justified a new trial. We affirm and hold that the plaintiffs were not entitled to the interviews because the jurors' failure to disclose the information, if any, were attributable to the plaintiffs' lack of diligence in uncovering the information during voir dire.

The case below was a wrongful death action filed by Janet and Douglas Rodgers against After School Programs, Inc., which operated an after school care program at an elementary school. The Rodgers claimed that the defendant was negligent in its failure to properly handle their son's complaint of a headache.

Through questionnaires, potential jurors were asked about their prior experiences in court proceedings, but the form generally provided no guidance as to what type of information was being requested. This inquiry elicited responses from four jurors who were ultimately empanelled. Juror # 4 revealed that she had previously been an alternate juror, but otherwise had no in-court experience, except as a witness in a criminal case. Juror # 9, a " strong believer" in the jury system, indicated that he had been to court on a traffic matter. Plaintiffs' attorney later followed up with juror # 9 as follows:

Q: You had indicated before that you had been in court before. Was that in a civil matter?
A: No. Traffic.

Jurors # 8 and # 16 stated that they had never been in court before. The only follow-up question posed by plaintiffs' counsel was a general one asked to the entire prospective panel: " Has anyone here been— this is a little different area— been sued in a civil case, for breach of contract or promissory note." The question generated no response from the four jurors listed above.

After a defense verdict, the Rodgers moved, inter alia, for leave to interview jurors # 4, # 8, # 9, and # 16 on the ground that they had concealed prior involvement with the court system during voir dire. As grounds, the motion alleged that (1) juror # 9 had failed to disclose that he had been convicted of two misdemeanors over 10 years before and that he was a plaintiff in a county court case which was dismissed for lack of prosecution; (2) juror # 4, a woman with a common name, had been involved in five civil cases, and at the time of the trial, was a defendant in two mortgage foreclosures; (3) juror # 8 had failed to reveal that she was a plaintiff in a civil case, was a trustee in a probate proceeding, and had a traffic infraction in 2009; and (4) juror # 16 had been a defendant in an indebtedness case.

The circuit court denied the motion to interview the jurors.

In Sterling v. Feldbaum,980 So.2d 596, 598-99 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008), we summarized the law on requests for ...


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