Compromise Is Great – But Not If You’re On A Jury
In life, compromise is a good thing. We all want people to give a little and get a little. But you may be surprised to know that when it comes to jury verdicts, compromise is a bad thing, and can lead to overturning of an injury verdict.
What’s Wrong With Making a Deal?
You may be wondering why compromising is a bad thing for a jury to do. After all, a little give and take is part of the process. The reason why compromising is not allowed is that a jury verdict is supposed to be based on the evidence presented—not on a “give and take” between jurors.
If a jury believes that a victim is injured, and should receive a large award, that juror should vote that way in the jury room. If the juror does not believe the victim should get anything, the juror should likewise vote that way. If the juror believes that a victim should get some but not all of what he or she is asking for, that’s fine also.
What is not fine is believing that the evidence shows X, but then voting Y, simply to “meet in the middle” with other jurors. When a juror compromises, he or she is not basing his or her decision on the evidence in the case and the facts presented. Rather, the verdict is a product of negotiation between other jurors.
A Practical Example
Let’s pretend that juror A believes that the Defendant in the case is not liable for the victim’s injuries. Every other juror believes that the Defendant is liable. So juror A says “I will agree with you, and find the Defendant liable, however, only if you only award the victim $10,000, and no more.” The jurors agree, and that’s their verdict.
Juror A found liability, even though he or she didn’t believe that to be shown by the evidence. Likewise, every other juror limited damages based on the compromise, and not on the actual evidence presented in the case.
Gambling and Average Verdicts
Just as compromise verdicts are not allowed, and can be thrown out so too are “gambling verdicts” prohibited. A gabling verdict is one where a jury agrees in advance of deliberations, to be bound by an average. For example, if jurors were to say that they will all write down how much the victim should receive, take the total, and average it. This is a predetermined decision, based on a math formula—not on each juror’s own impressions of the evidence presented.
Although juror deliberations are private, Tennessee law does allow jurors to be questioned as to how they arrived at their verdict, and whether there was any outside influence, including whether an averaging system or math formula was used to come to the verdict.
Call the Clinton personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, for help. We take injury cases all the way to trial, if needed.