AMMC, P.C. v. Snell, 1180308

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtWISE, Justice.
Citation309 So.3d 625 (Mem)
Parties AMMC, P.C., d/b/a Alabama Men's Clinic, and John Justin Caulfield, M.D. v. Robert SNELL and Tabitha Snell
Docket Number1180308
Decision Date10 April 2020

309 So.3d 625 (Mem)

AMMC, P.C., d/b/a Alabama Men's Clinic, and John Justin Caulfield, M.D.
Robert SNELL and Tabitha Snell


Supreme Court of Alabama.

April 10, 2020
Rehearing Denied May 22, 2020

Bert P. Taylor of Taylor Partners, LLC, Orange Beach, for appellants.

William A. Yearout of Yearout & Traylor, P.C., Birmingham, for appellees.

WISE, Justice.


Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Bryan, Mendheim, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur.

Bolin and Sellers, JJ., dissent.

SELLERS, Justice (dissenting).

309 So.3d 626

Robert Snell and Tabitha Snell sued AMMC, P.C., d/b/a Alabama Men's Clinic ("AMMC"), and Dr. John Justin Caulfield, alleging medical malpractice. After a trial in 2018, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants, and the Snells filed a motion for a new trial. The trial court granted that motion, and the defendants appealed. I respectfully dissent from the Court's decision to affirm the trial court's judgment.

In their motion for a new trial, the Snells asserted that, after the trial, they discovered evidence of juror misconduct. Specifically, they alleged that several jurors had failed to give complete and truthful answers to questions asked during voir dire.

The trial court held two hearings on the motion for a new trial, during which it heard testimony from the jurors. After the hearings, the trial court entered an order granting the motion for a new trial based on the failure of three particular jurors to reveal during voir dire that they or their family members had been defendants in lawsuits. Dr. Caulfield and AMMC appealed.

The applicable standard of review calls for this Court to determine whether the trial court exceeded its discretion in granting the Snells' motion for a new trial. Hood v. McElroy, 127 So. 3d 325, 328 (Ala. 2011). "[T]he proper inquiry for the trial court on [a] motion for new trial, grounded on allegedly improper responses or lack of responses by prospective jurors on voir dire, is whether this has resulted in probable prejudice to the movant." Freeman v. Hall, 286 Ala. 161, 166, 238 So. 2d 330, 335 (1970). "[N]ot every failure of a venireman to respond correctly to a voir dire question will entitle the losing party to a new trial." Wallace v. Campbell, 475 So. 2d 521, 522 (Ala. 1985).

The following occurred during voir dire:

"[SNELLS' COUNSEL:] ... [W]hen I ask a question about you, what I'm talking about is you and members of your immediate family. Members of your immediate family would be your husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, children. So if you know if I ask a question and you know that somebody in your immediate family might be affected by it or might have an answer to that question, if you will hold up your hand, we will see where we go with that.


"[SNELLS' COUNSEL:] Have any of you ever been defendants in a lawsuit? That is someone sued you or a member of your immediate family? And what I'm talking about, I'm not talking about divorce or anything like that, I'm talking about somebody sues you for personal injuries or damages or anything like that.


"[SNELLS' COUNSEL]: Now, anyone else been a defendant? Not divorces or anything like that, just personal injuries for money, something that involves damages.


"[SNELLS' COUNSEL]: Now, let me take that back a step. Have any of you been in a situation where it didn't go to a lawsuit but somebody made a claim against you for damages? Car wreck, a bill, anything like that that was upsetting to you?"

In its order granting the Snells' motion for a new trial, the trial court stated that the Snells were probably prejudiced by the

309 So.3d 627

failure of jurors C.D.C., M.H., and R.G.H. to properly respond to voir dire questioning.

Juror C.D.C. had three small-claims default judgments entered against her in collections actions from January 2015 to May 2016. She testified during one of the hearings on the motion for a new trial that she did not remember being asked during voir dire if she or her family members had been a defendant in a lawsuit. She also testified that she was not even aware of the default judgments and that she was not trying to deceive anyone by not disclosing...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT