Jury Duty With a Mediator Mindset, Part 2: The Jury

Last year, shareholder A. Michelle Jernigan served on a jury at the Orange County (Fla.) Courthouse. Here she offers a glimpse of how a mediator thinks in a situation like this. (See Part 1 at More questions? Call on Michelle at or (407) 661-1123. Would you like to reserve a mediation time with Michelle? Visit our scheduling page or contact case manager Cathy McCleary (

Florida Mediator Michelle Jernigan Florida Mediator and UWWM Shareholder Michelle Jernigan

Seven of us were selected to serve – six jurors and one alternate. I initially tried to guess who the alternate was but recognized it was futile. I had no real information from which to make that judgment. Our jury was composed of five men and two women. Two of the jurors were younger than 30; the rest of us ranged from 40s to 60s. Five of us were white, one was Hispanic and one was African American. One of the gentlemen was retired, while the rest of us were employed or had our own businesses. One of the younger jurors was in college, two of us had professional degrees and the remaining four had some post-secondary education.

As a group, we got along well and were very courteous to each other. We did not discuss the case but instead talked about our lives, our experiences, our families and speculations about why we were chosen to serve. A number of us even went to lunch together during several days of our service.

The Facts

We discovered during “voir dire” that the case was a personal injury suit brought by a woman in her 30s against a construction company. As the plaintiff’s attorney presented the case, we learned the woman, a cafeteria worker with five children, was driving to work around 5 a.m. when she hit a pothole. It was raining at the time, and the pothole was not visible due to the large amount of water on the road. She immediately pulled over to the side of the road and noticed she had blown out the front and back tires on one side of her vehicle. She also observed another driver stopped alongside the road with a tire problem. This gentleman had driven through the same pothole and blew out two of his tires. A state trooper responded to the scene, prepared a report and measured the pothole. His measurements of the pothole were 3 feet wide, 4 feet long and 3 feet deep. The experts and other witnesses gave varying accounts of their estimate of the size of the hole as well.

The plaintiff did not seek any medical treatment after the accident. She worked that Friday but felt slightly stiff on Saturday. She rested on Sunday and then awoke early Monday morning with piercing pain in her neck and tingling and numbness in her arms. Her symptoms were significant enough that her husband took her to the emergency room. She had some X-rays, but an MRI was not performed. She was released and began treatment with a chiropractor. After some chiropractic therapy, she went to a neurologist and ultimately saw a neurosurgeon. Two MRIs were conducted by different specialists, and she was diagnosed with a herniated disc at C4-C5. Her pain persisted, and she had a cervical fusion about one year after the accident. She testified that her pain was immediately relieved after the surgery. She missed about one month of work and then slowly resumed her duties.

Next: Liability Issues

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