Two Jurors Jailed for Using the Internet

Two Jurors Jailed for Using the Internet

A juror who chose to look on the Internet to research her case and the lawyers  ended up in jail for four days right before Christmas. The lead for the plaintiff’s team, Jane Sams said, “She admitted in open court she was trying to determine who to vote for.” The second juror was sent to jail for exchanging notes with the Internet-surfing juror and lied to the judge about doing so. “The lesson here is you never know how social media is going to affect you,” Sams said.

The medical malpractice case started in October 31, 2001, when Venket Annamalai went to North Fulton Family Medicine with symptoms of headache, fever, sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath. He was diagnosed with acute respiratory infection. When he returned the following day Dr. David Hall diagnosed him with shortness of breath and sent him to the emergency room where he had a chest X-ray which showed he had pneumonia. He was then admitted into intensive care.

When Mr. Annamali grew worse that night, Dr. Daniel Callahan inserted a breathing tube. There was no cricoid pressure applied to prevent stomach contents from being ingested. Annamalai aspirated large amounts of coffee grounds and went into cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at 10:50 p.m. In August of 2003, Sams filed a suit on behalf of Annamalai’s wife and estate administrator.

Before the closing arguments at trial, Judge Susan Forsling read a note from another juror stating how two of the jurors had disregarded Forsling’s orders to avoid the internet involving the case. Forsling confiscated both jurors’ notebooks and found that the two had been discussing the trial and evidence.

The case ended up with a defense verdict which dismissed the claims against Dr. Callahan. The jurors were released from jail four days later.

Case: Annnalmali v. North Fulton Family Medicine

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