Evidence Improperly Provided to the Jury Requires New Trial

By Michael Zerres

Highlighted Medical Report was Inadvertently Given to the Jury

In Tepper v Urdinaran, the NJ Appellate Division on 3/5/08 ruled that in a medical malpractice case alleging a delay in diagnosing a woman’s colon cancer, the inadvertent submission to the jury of a highlighted medical report not properly moved into evidence was sufficient to require a new trial.

Normally, after attorney summations, it is required that both plaintiff and defense counsel review the documents submitted into evidence to make sure a) all of the evidence that should be given to the jury is actually provided to them , and, b) that any documents not moved into evidence be EXCLUDED from the materials submitted to the jury.

Unfortunately, in Tepper, there was a report, authored by the defendant and sent to a referring physician, that was never moved into evidence, but, nonetheless was somehow given to the jury. The document, which had been referred to by both counsel during trial, had, additionally, certain language which was the subject of one of the legal disputes in the case underlined and circled. The Appellate Division concluded that the document, which should never have been provided to the jury, had the capacity to influence the jury to reach a conclusion it otherwise might not have reached, and, that, as a result, the case would have to be tried again.

Related Articles: