Juror Bias in Medical Malpractice Trial

  • Date: Spring 1997
  • Attorney: John Blume
  • Settlement: $950,000
  • Practice Areas: Product Liability, Racial Discrimination, Jury Bias

In a 1994 trial the mother of a child who suffered severe brain damage during delivery was denied compensation by a jury who may have been biased against her because she is a Muslim. Before the trial got underway, Blume, Goldfaden Principal John Blume asked the judge to declare a mistrial because the defense lawyers had made a concerted attempt to exclude minority jurors.

Although the judge agreed that at least one juror challenge was racially biased, he refused to grant Mr. Blume's motion for a new trial. Mrs. Rima Samo, a Syrian Muslim, wore traditional Arab dress in the courtroom, and the trial judge also refused Mr. Blume's request to question potential jurors if the then recent bombing at the World Trade Center, in which Muslims were suspected, would make any difference to them.

In his appeal, Mr. Blume also presented arguments that the jury instructions contained information that was confusing and misleading.

The appellate court ruling in this case means that Mrs. Samo now has the chance for fair trial, during which her lawyer, Mr. Blume, will have the opportunity to ensure that an impartial jury will be seated to consider the facts about the medical care she and her infant received in the delivery room.

** Update ** Prior to the new trial, Blume Donnelly partner settled the case on behalf of the family for $950,000.

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