Juror’s Anti-Calif. Bias Upsets Verdict
A Seattle jury foreman who told fellow jurors that Californians are so “sue happy” that they will drag their own mothers into court has given a California woman a new shot at winning damages from Safeway Stores Inc.
The Washington Supreme Court today agreed unanimously that the juror was biased against Californians, and that his failure to disclose the bias during jury selection entitled Marie N. Robinson to a new trial to determine damages.
Robinson sued Safeway in 1983 after she was struck on the back by a metal rack that fell as she reached into a refrigerated unit.
A King County Superior Court jury in Seattle awarded the woman $9,278, an amount Robinson considered inadequate. She sought a new trial on grounds that the jury foreman’s bias against Californians had resulted in the inadequate award.
Upon review, the Superior Court found that the jury foreman, whose name was not disclosed, failed to reveal a bias toward Californians even when asked during jury selection.
The lower court found that during jury deliberation the foreman said: “These Californians sue anyone they can get money from. . . . Californians are sue happy.”
The court found that the foreman further said: It is “the fast pace, I guess. I mean, you don’t see the suits in Washington like California. People down there sue for anything. Children sue their parents, parents sue their children. I was sued for $500,000 because of a car accident” in California.