July 30, 2019, 10:34 am CDT
A federal appeals court has affirmed a decision to remove a holdout juror from a case after he called female jurors “bitches” and referred to others as “white asses.”
A federal judge in Florida had removed the juror in a lawsuit against State Farm that contended that the insurer wrongfully denied underinsured motorist benefits. Jurors complained that the holdout juror had:
• Confronted a male juror “chest to chest and threatened to punch him out.”
• Remarked that he was “going to hit someone” and goaded other jurors to “swing on me.”
• Used the F-word, called Caucasian jurors “white asses,” and referred to female jurors as “bitches.”
• “Laid on the couch during most of their deliberations.”
• Said he didn’t want to follow instructions. When he was urged to follow the law he replied, “I don’t care.”
• Interrupted and ignored jurors and refused to deliberate.
• Frightened jurors and caused two female jurors to cry.
Lawyers for both sides had expressed concern about the jurors’ conduct. The lawyer for State Farm suggested excusing the juror. The lawyer for the plaintiff opposed removal of the juror, while describing the pejoratives he used to refer to women as “horrifying.”
Under questioning, the juror said he had been frustrated about people trying to sway him a certain way, but he had a cooperative relationship with the other jurors. He said he doubted that he could continue deliberating, however.
After the judge kicked the juror off the case, the six remaining jurors resumed deliberations and ruled for State Farm.
The 11th Circuit said it had affirmed excusing jurors for “less egregious” conduct. The court said there was no need to declare a mistrial and affirmed the judgment for State Farm.