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Supreme Court of the United States
November 28, 1983, Argued ; January 18, 1984, Decided
[*549] [***667] [**846] JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondents, Billy Greenwood and his parents, sued petitioner McDonough Power Equipment, Inc., to recover damages sustained by Billy when his feet came in contact with the blades of a riding lawnmower manufactured [****4] by petitioner. The United States District Court for the District of Kansas entered judgment for petitioner upon a jury verdict and denied respondents' motion for new trial. On appeal, however, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed the judgment of the District Court and ordered a new trial. It held that the failure of a juror to respond affirmatively to a question on voir dire seeking to elicit information about previous injuries to members of the juror's immediate family had "prejudiced the Greenwoods' right to peremptory challenge," 687 F.2d 338, 342 (1982), and that a new trial was necessary to cure this error. We granted certiorari, 462 U.S. 1130 (1983), and now hold that respondents are not entitled to a new trial unless the [**847] juror's failure to disclose denied respondents their right to an impartial jury.
During the voir dire prior to the empaneling of the six-member jury, respondents' attorney asked prospective jurors the following question:
[*550] "Now, how many of you have yourself or any members of your immediate family sustained any severe injury, not necessarily as severe as Billy, but sustained [****5] any injuries whether it was an accident at home, or on the farm or at work that resulted in any disability or prolonged pain and suffering, that is you or any members of your immediate family?" App. 19.
Ronald Payton, who eventually became a juror, did not respond to this question, which was addressed to the panel as a whole. After a trial which extended over a 3-week period, the jury found for petitioner McDonough. 2 Four days after judgment [***668] was entered for petitioner, respondents moved under local Rule 23A for permission to approach the members of the jury. In support of their motion respondents asserted that they were of "information and belief" that juror Payton's son may have been injured at one time, a fact which had not been revealed during voir dire. Id., at 68. The District Court ruled that respondents had failed to show just cause to approach the jury. Id., at 73.
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464 U.S. 548 *; 104 S. Ct. 845 **; 78 L. Ed. 2d 663 ***; 1984 U.S. LEXIS 22 ****; 52 U.S.L.W. 4126
McDONOUGH POWER EQUIPMENT, INC. v. GREENWOOD ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT.
Disposition: 687 F.2d 338, reversed.
juror, district court, bias, new trial, voir dire, motion for a new trial, respondents', prospective juror, impartial, peremptory challenge, injuries, parties, biased
Civil Procedure, Standards of Review, Harmless & Invited Errors, General Overview, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Motions for New Trials