The right to a trial by your peers, better known as a jury trial, was so important to the Founding Fathers that it was envisioned and captured in the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as follows:
“In suits by a common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, that according to the rules of the common law.”
This sacred right was then incorporated into the Ohio Constitution:
“The right of trial by jury shall be inviolate except that, in civil cases, laws may be passed to authorize the rendering of a verdict by the concurrence of not less than three-fourths of the jury.”
However, even though the Founding Fathers and the authors of the Ohio Constitution understood how critical the right to a trial by a group of peers was to our civil society, that right has been under continuous attack for the last 10 to 15 years by corporations, insurance companies, and the medical community. How drastic have reductions been in terms of access to the courtroom? The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice published a survey in 2008 measuring the 75 most populous counties in the country which revealed that the number of civil trials in these counties decreased by 52% from 1992 to 2005.
The most common reason for the reduction in jury trials is the continued attack on the civil justice system through the passage of laws by state legislatures that reduce access to the courtroom either directly or by impacting the cost benefit analysis of going forward with trial. In other words, insurance companies and the medical community have convinced lawmakers in Ohio and other states to pass laws that make the jury trial process so costly that injured patients and their families have been convinced to accept minimal settlements instead of incurring the increasing cost of trial.
Most recently, New Hampshire passed laws that placed significant hurdles in front of plaintiffs with rightful claims before they could access a courtroom in a medical negligence case. These new laws include a lengthy administrative process and absolutely no consideration of a patient’s pain and suffering and the future impact a medical error may have on their life. All these changes dissuade injured patients with rightful claims from making their way to the courtroom. It is clear that this type of attack on the right to jury trial in the medical malpractice setting is in Ohioans’ future: The Buckeye Institute, an Ohio-based conservative lobbying entity, made public comment that they believe the New Hampshire model is something that should be followed in Ohio.
If you have been injured in Ohio and have a potential medical malpractice case, please contact an attorney immediately to protect your rights to a potential jury trial. The attorneys of Plevin & Gallucci have been representing Ohio victims of medical negligence and protecting the unalienable right to jury trial for more than 30 years. For a no-obligation consultation, contact us today.