Blades v. DaFoe

Decision Date02 June 1983
Docket NumberNo. 80CA0616,80CA0616
Citation666 P.2d 1126
PartiesVirginia M. BLADES and Phillip N. Blades, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Charles DaFOE, Robert McCurdy, and Douglas H. Kirkpatrick, Defendants-Appellees. . I
CourtColorado Court of Appeals

Eugene Deikman, William Peterson, Denver, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Long & Jaudon, P.C., James A. Dierker, Joseph C. Jaudon, Denver, for defendant-appellee Charles DaFoe.

Johnson, Mahoney & Scott, P.C., Dennis M. Mahoney, Brian J. Lampert, Denver, for defendant-appellee Robert McCurdy.

Hall & Evans, Richard D. Hall, Denver, for defendant-appellee Douglas H. Kirkpatrick.

STERNBERG, Judge.

Plaintiffs, Virginia and Phillip Blades, brought a medical malpractice suit against defendants, DaFoe, McCurdy, and Kirkpatrick. The jury returned a verdict for defendants and plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.

The plaintiffs' complaint alleged negligence, battery, and lack of informed consent in connection with an operation performed on Virginia Blades. Dr. DaFoe was the obstetrician-gynecologist who recommended and performed the procedure, Dr. Kirkpatrick was a partner of Dr. DaFoe, and Dr. McCurdy was the supervising surgeon. The action against Dr. Kirkpatrick was dismissed at the close of plaintiffs' case.

On appeal, plaintiffs assert error in the trial judge's refusal to disqualify himself for bias, granting defendants two more peremptory challenges than allowed by C.R.C.P. 47(h), denial of plaintiffs' challenge for cause of a juror who expressed bias, and denial of a tendered instruction on the burden of proof on the issue of informed consent.

The record before us consists only of the pleadings, the jury voir dire, proposed instructions, and objections to the instructions given.

I.

The plaintiffs' motion requesting the trial judge to disqualify himself was based on the fact that Dr. McCurdy had performed minor skin surgery on the judge six years previously. All parties stipulated that the judge, while off the record, had remarked that he had a high opinion of Dr. McCurdy, but that he did not believe his opinion would interfere with his ability to try the case.

A judge shall be disqualified in an action in which he has an interest or is prejudiced, or is so related or connected with any party or his attorney as to render it improper for him to sit on the trial. C.R.C.P. 97. In the absence of a valid reason for disqualification relating to the subject matter of the litigation, the trial judge has the duty of presiding over the case. Kovacheff v. Langhart, 147 Colo. 339, 363 P.2d 702 (1961); Board of County Commissioners v. Blanning, 29 Colo.App. 61, 479 P.2d 404 (1970). The opinion expressed by the trial judge here was based on acts remote in time and not connected with the present litigation. Thus, the facts did not justify disqualification.

II.

Based on C.R.C.P. 47(h), plaintiffs contend the court erred in granting defendants a total of six peremptory challenges as compared with four for plaintiffs. We do not agree.

The rule states that each side shall have four challenges and all parties on each side must join in such challenges. The purpose of voir dire examination is to enable the court and counsel to select a fair and impartial jury. Edwards v. People, 160 Colo. 395, 418 P.2d 174 (1966); Oglesby v. Conger, 31 Colo.App. 504, 507 P.2d 883 (1972). Peremptory challenges are not constitutionally required, but nevertheless are provided to litigants as a means of obtaining more impartial and better qualified jurors than is possible by limiting challenges to those specified, provable bases of partiality which support a challenge for cause. Swain v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202, 85 S.Ct. 824, 13 L.Ed.2d 759 (1965). Had plaintiffs been denied the number of peremptory challenges allowed under the rule, we might then agree with the contention that plaintiffs did not receive a fair trial and need not show prejudice to prevail. But the situation here is otherwise. Plaintiffs were not compelled to take objectionable jurors.

A party has no vested right to any particular juror, for the right to challenge a juror is the right to exclude incompetent jurors, not to include particular persons who may be competent. Anderson v. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc., 543 F.2d 732 (10th Cir.1976) . Thus, while there was error here in not applying the rule as written, plaintiffs' right to a fair trial was not violated.

The weight of authority in civil cases, and the more appealing logic, supports the rule that, absent evidence of prejudice, a verdict will not be set aside for error in allowing one or more peremptory challenges in excess of that provided by statute. Bailey v. Deverick, 142 So.2d 775 (Fla.App.1962); Cruse v. Daniels, 293 S.W.2d 616 (Tex.App.1956); see Annot., 95 A.L.R.2d 957 (1964). We adopt that rule.

Because of this disposition, we do not reach the question whether each side is limited to the number of challenges allowed by C.R.C.P. 47(h) regardless of whether the respective interests of multiple parties on the same side are common or antagonistic. Compare Fick v. Wolfinger, 293 Minn. 483, 198 N.W.2d 146 (1972) with Kunk v. Hawell, 40 Tenn.App. 183, 289 S.W.2d 874 (1956); see also Annot., 32 A.L.R.3d 747 (1970).

III.

Plaintiffs, who used all of their peremptory challenges, also assert error in the trial court's denial of their challenge for cause of an allegedly biased juror. The juror had seen medical reports filed by Dr. McCurdy and several of the witnesses in her job as a claims adjuster for the State Compensation Insurance Fund. She commented that she felt doctors do the best they can, and responded affirmatively to the question of whether the plaintiff would have an "uphill battle" of proving a case. Based upon these responses, plaintiffs challenged the juror for cause.

The decision of the trial court to deny a challenge for cause will not be disturbed on review in the absence of a manifest abuse of discretion. People v. Taggart, 621 P.2d 1375 (Colo.1981). Where, after extensive voir dire, the juror states she can and will set aside her sympathies and decide the case based upon the evidence and the law, denial of a challenge is not an abuse of discretion. People v. Taggart, supra; Kaltenbach v. Julesburg School District RE-1, 43 Colo.App. 150, 603 P.2d 955 (1979).

The record contains ample evidence to support the trial court's decision. The juror unequivocally stated that her job would not interfere with being a juror because she handled only industrial injuries. She responded that she had feelings against bringing medical malpractice cases because she sees so many unsubstantiated claims, but she said she felt she could be fair and would have no trouble returning a verdict for the plaintiffs if they produced the greater weight of the evidence. She stated she would follow the law as she was instructed and was sure she could weigh the evidence without any bias toward either side. At no time did she express any doubt about her ability to be impartial other than agreeing that the plaintiffs have an "uphill battle." Denial of plaintiffs' challenge for cause was therefore not an abuse of discretion.

IV.

As a final point of error, plaintiffs argue the court should have given an instruction that defendants had the burden of proving informed consent.

Plaintiffs' complaint stated a claim for battery, alleging the operation was performed contrary to her conditional consent. It also stated a claim for lack of informed consent, alleging defendants negligently failed to obtain an informed consent to the procedure. The instructions to the jury contained the pattern jury instruction on operation without consent and the definition of consent and informed consent, Colo.J.I. 15:12, 15:13, and 15:16 (2d ed. 1980), but omitted Colo.J.I. 15:15 (2d ed. 1980), covering the elements of liability and affirmative defenses for uninformed consent.

The law in Colorado distinguishes between an action based on no consent (battery) and one based on lack of informed consent. See Colo.J.I. 15:12 (2d ed. 1980) (Notes on Use). In a suit based on lack of informed consent, the plaintiff must present evidence of the defendant's failure to inform of inherent risks before the burden shifts to the physician to show that his failure to disclose conformed with community standards. Mudd v. Dorr, 40...

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6 cases
  • Blades v. DaFoe, 83SC306
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • July 8, 1985
    ...J. Lampert, Denver, for Robert McCurdy. NEIGHBORS, Justice. We granted certiorari to review three issues addressed in Blades v. DaFoe, 666 P.2d 1126 (Colo.App.1983), by the court of appeals. First, did the trial court commit reversible error when it granted six peremptory challenges to the ......
  • Lounsbury v. Capel
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • July 17, 1992
    ...v. Vecchione, 2 Cal.App.4th 1208, 283 Cal.Rptr. 219, 226 reh'g granted, 286 Cal.Rptr. 779, 818 P.2d 62 (1991); Blades v. DaFoe, 666 P.2d 1126, 1129-30 (Colo.App.1983), rev'd on other grounds, 704 P.2d 317 (Colo.1985); Bloskas v. Murray, 646 P.2d 907, 914 (Colo.1982); Nishi v. Hartwell, 52 H......
  • McKenzie v. The City of Denver
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Colorado
    • July 21, 2023
    ... ... no consent (battery) and one based on lack of informed ... consent. Blades v. DaFoe , 666 P.2d 1126 (Colo.App ... 1983), rev'd on other grounds , 704 P.2d 317 ... (Colo. 1985) ... A physician who ... ...
  • People of The State of Colo. v. BREWSTER
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • October 8, 2009
    ...v. Kubat, 124 Colo. 491, 494, 238 P.2d 897, 899 (1951); see also People v. Little, 813 P.2d 816, 818 (Colo.App.1991); Blades v. DaFoe, 666 P.2d 1126, 1128 (Colo.App.1983), rev'd on other grounds, 704 P.2d 317 (Colo.1985). We acknowledge that in Aaberg v. District Court, 136 Colo. 525, 319 P......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • Rule 47 JURORS.
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure (CBA)
    • Invalid date
    ...court to deny a challenge for cause will not be disturbed on review in the absence of a manifest abuse of discretion. Blades v. DaFoe, 666 P.2d 1126 (Colo. App. 1983), rev'd on other grounds, 704 P.2d 317 (Colo. 1985); Denver & Rio Grande v. Forster, 773 P.2d 612 (Colo. App. 1989). If the e......
  • Chapter 6 - § 6.6 JUDGE DISQUALIFICATION
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Courtroom Handbook for Civil Trials (2022 ed.) (CBA) Chapter 6 Conduct of Trial
    • Invalid date
    ...that he had a high opinion of the physician but did not believe it would interfere with his ability to try the case, Blades v. DaFoe, 666 P.2d 1126 (Colo. App. 1983), rev'd on other grounds, 704 P.2d 317 (Colo. 1985). Federal ➢ General (a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate [magistrate judge......
  • Chapter 6 - § 6.6 • JUDGE DISQUALIFICATION
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Courtroom Handbook for Civil Trials (CBA) Chapter 6 Conduct of Trial
    • Invalid date
    ...that he had a high opinion of the physician but did not believe it would interfere with his ability to try the case, Blades v. DaFoe, 666 P.2d 1126 (Colo. App. 1983), rev'd on other grounds, 704 P.2d 317 (Colo. 1985). Federal ➢ General. (a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the Uni......
  • Rule 97 CHANGE OF JUDGE.
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure (CBA)
    • Invalid date
    ...relating to the subject matter of the litigation, the trial judge has the duty of presiding over the case. Blades v. DaFoe, 666 P.2d 1126 (Colo. App. 1983), rev'd on other grounds, 704 P.2d 317 (Colo. 1985). Upon reasonable inference of a "bent of mind" that will prevent judge from dealing ......

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