A Defendant Wronged: When Jury Instructions Go Awry

May 03, 2012

The way we look at it, the defendant got jobbed. It was a ridiculous case — at least as a product liability matter — to start with. The jury agreed and found no product defect.

Then, on appeal, it turns out that the trial judge made an “error” in a jury instruction on a point that the jury never reached. So the plaintiff gets a new trial due to an instructional “error” that, to a reasonable degree of litigation certainty, had nothing to do with the verdict.

That, in a nutshell, is Dolan v. Hilo Medical Center.