Juror’s Outside Research Leads to New Trial in Tylenol Death Case

Reportedly, California federal judge John A. Kronstadt has signed an order setting aside a November Jury verdict in favor of Defendant McNeil-PPC Inc. in light of some funny business by a member of the jury.  The substance of the Plaintiff’s claim was as follows:

Kindra Robertson filed the suit against McNeil in 2011 after her 11-year-old son Tyler died of sepsis caused by pneumonia several days after ingesting Children’s Tylenol from a batch allegedly included in a voluntary recall in September 2009, according to the complaint. Robertson had the bottle tested for contamination, which was found to be positive for bacteria.


The juror in question “initially said in a declaration presented in support of the motion for a new trial that she told other jurors that the Tylenol given to Robertson’s son hadn’t been recalled.” Apparently, this research “helped change [the juror’s] vote to the defense.” The Judge was apparently concerned because the verdict needed to be unanimous, and thus, the juror at issue being influenced by the verdict was important on its own.  There was also concern that the juror communicating this information to other jurors may have influenced the other jurors to whom the juror communicated the information.

It is fairly common knowledge at this point that juror’s perform outside research despite being instructed by the Court not to do so.  Though it is all too familiar, it remains improper, and when it influences the outcome of the trial, it may give everyone the opportunity to try the case again in front of a new group of jurors, as it did in this case.

(Hat Tip: Law360).

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