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Thomas v. Mercy Hospitals East Communities
Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc
August 1, 2017
THADDEUS THOMAS, a Minor, by and through his Next Friend, Marlin Thomas, and MARLIN THOMAS and MA SHERYLL JOY THOMAS, Individually, Appellants,
MERCY HOSPITALS EAST COMMUNITIES, d/b/a MERCY HOSPITAL-WASHINGTON, and MERCY CLINIC EAST COMMUNITIES, Respondents.
from the Circuit Court of Franklin County, Missouri Honorable
Gael D. Wood, Judge
Denvir Stith, Judge
appeal the judgment entered by the trial court in favor of
defendant hospitals following a jury trial. Plaintiffs allege
the trial court abused its discretion by failing to strike
for cause prospective juror 24 because she expressed a
disqualifying bias in favor of defendants under section
494.470.1. This Court does not agree.
Prospective juror 24 did not say she had knowledge concerning
the "matter or any material fact in controversy"
from which to form an opinion requiring her disqualification
under subsection 1. The trial court did not abuse its
discretion in finding, without additional questioning, she
was rehabilitated when the entire voir dire was considered,
including her later statement that she could follow the trial
court's instructions. See section 494.470.2. The
trial court was in the best position to determine whether the
prospective juror was disqualified. This Court affirms.
March 13, 2013, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit alleging medical
negligence in connection with the Caesarean-section delivery
of Thaddeus Thomas, claiming defendants caused him to sustain
brain damage. During voir dire, plaintiffs' counsel
informed the venire panel, "[T]his case involves Mercy
Clinics, Mercy Clinic Physicians, as the defendant and Mercy
Clinic Hospital. Just knowing that they are defendants in
this case, is there anyone that feels they might start off
the case a little bit more in favor of one party or the
other?" Prospective juror 24 raised her hand, and the
following exchange took place:
JUROR: Is Big St. John's and this hospital affiliated?
PL COUNSEL: Probably - well, you called it St. John's,
and I used to call them St. John's because I grew up in
Missouri. But I think - I would -
JUROR: It's Mercy.
PL COUNSEL: Yeah, that's it, right.
JUROR: But it used to be called St. John's so.
PL COUNSEL: Right. And you will - the child was eventually
transferred to Mercy, Big Mercy as you called it, at some
JUROR: That's what they call it.
PL COUNSEL: Okay. So the same question, because you know
people there, know - have some knowledge of that and a
relationship with that organization indirectly, would you
tend to give them more credibility or that defendant maybe,
in this case the local one, start off -
JUROR: I don't think so.
PL COUNSEL: Okay. I think I hear where you're going with
this, but as a lawyer, I have to try to make sure things are
clear. You say you don't think so, but later on you did
decide you were - they started off a step in advance, that
would be -
JUROR: Well, I've heard my sister have lots of opinions
of St. John's so, you know.
PL COUNSEL: So ultimately, can you sit through this whole
case without starting off a little bit in favor of Mercy or
St. John's, as you call them, or would you start off with
them having a touch in favor of them?
JUROR: I don't - maybe - yeah, probably.
PL COUNSEL: Maybe you would be slightly in favor of them?
JUROR: Yep, probably.
PL COUNSEL: Okay. And, you know, that's - that's all
I'm trying to get is the best answer you can give, and
you seem ...