A judge has rejected a request for a new trial for a cancer-stricken engineer who claims that the jury that turned down his bid for damages from the San Onofre nuclear power plant was influenced by the O.J. Simpson case.
District Judge Napoleon A. Jones Jr. ruled that under federal law he could not consider whether the jurors in the case of 63-year-old Glen James were misled because of one juror's alleged belief that James was required to meet the same burden of proof as prosecutors in the Simpson case.
To consider such an allegation would be an improper inquiry into the mental processes of the jury, Jones ruled in an opinion, which was made public Friday.
A jury Oct. 12 rejected James' request for compensatory and punitive damages against Southern California Edison, the operators and majority owners of the plant. James, who lives in Dominguez Hills, argued that he contracted leukemia because of negligent handling of radiation at the plant.
Seeking a new trial, James' attorneys, Don Howarth and Suzelle Smith, submitted an affidavit from a juror who claimed that a fellow juror told the jury that James was required to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt, the same as in the Simpson case.
Plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit need prove their case only with a preponderance of evidence, a much lower burden.
Attorneys for Edison provided affidavits from other jurors insisting that the jury clearly understood their instructions from the judge and were not confused by any comparison with the Simpson case.
An Edison attorney applauded Jones' ruling.