An attorney who claimed jury tampering by the Southeast Texas Record as one of the reasons she lost a medical malpractice case will not get a new trial for her client. Judge Floyd abused his discretion in quashing plaintiffs' discovery requests;
At a hearing on Thursday, May 14, Judge Donald Floyd denied plaintiff's attorney Valorie Davenport's motion for new trial.
Davenport had accused the Record of tampering with the jurors during the Thompson vs. Woodruff trial in January.
Neither party brought up the Record or the tampering allegations during the motion hearing.
Plaintiff Stacy Thompson claimed several of her doctors were negligent for failing to diagnose her breast cancer in a timely manner.
However, jurors found no wrongdoing by any of the three doctors named as defendants.
Two months later, Davenport filed a motion seeking a new trial on at least eight grounds. Davenport's motion alleged that:
Judge Floyd abused his discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for a continuance of the trial;
The verdicts in favor of the defendants were against the great weight of the evidence and manifestly unjust;
Defense counsel engaged in improper conduct, including making knowing misrepresentations to the Court and "speaking objections" to evidence that were essentially improper argument;
The jury instructions were erroneous;
There was jury misconduct involving one juror who allegedly failed to disclose her previous marriage to, and acrimonious divorce from, Stacy Thompson's cousin;
There was jury misconduct involving two jurors who allegedly openly expressed their resentment toward plaintiffs because of their loss of income due to the trial; and
The Record engaged in jury tampering.
With respect to the jury tampering allegation, Davenport says one of the trial's jurors, "if subpoenaed to testify, will confirm that agents (apparently with the Southeast Texas Record) passed out its weekly editions to persons sitting … near the entrance to the 172nd District Court during the weeks of the" Thompson trial.
"The acts (of distributing these periodicals to … sitting jurors) constituted attempted jury tampering and probably resulted in the unjust verdict … and requires that a new trial be granted," the motion states.
In response to Davenport's motion, defense attorney Joel Sprott writes that "there is no evidence of jury misconduct."
"According to plaintiffs' allegations, she has had an opportunity to converse with specific jurors and attempt to obtain affidavits from them, yet she only filed her own affidavit," Sprott writes. "Without affidavits from jurors, plaintiffs' grounds are without merit."
The plaintiff's affidavit which Sprott refers to was authored by Stacy Thompson. The defendants claim that Thompson sent letters to the jurors after the trial defaming the doctors in her suit.
Case No. E167-187