Warning: This will be a long, detailed story about my jury duty experience told from my point of view. Many of the parties involved may possibly disagree with my opinions, however, I don’t give a fizznuck.
So, I’m home, minding my business and playing Candy Crush Saga, then I get a dayum jury duty summons. “Gotdammit to hell” was the first thing that came to mind. I don’t want anything to do with court unless I’m watching Law & Order: SVU. The summons stated I need to be in the jury assembly room on Monday, September 9, and 8:30am. Because I’m a law abiding citizen, I do as the summons says and show up. At the jury assembly room, the room is filled with LOTS of people, so I’m pretty sure they won’t even call my name and I can just go back home, but God said “Nah boo, I got plans for you”. Not only am I one of the first people they called, I’m also assigned Juror seat # 1. Wow!
After a severely long list of questions from attorneys on both sides (which took ALL damn day. I’m not even kidding.) they finally select the 12 people they want on the jury. It was a very diverse group of us, ranging from Black, White, young, middle-aged, older, men, women, etc. Honestly this was an amazing group of people I’ve gotten to know over the last 2 weeks. We shared nice conversations and lots of laughs. We were told to keep an open mind and to not discuss the case until we have all the evidence and we all did just that. Once all the evidence was presented and we got our jury instructions, it took us a total of 13 hours and 36 minutes to reach a unanimous verdict. Yes, bitch. 13 whole hours and 36 whole minutes.
During the jury selection, the attorneys asked us questions like “Do you have diabetes or know anyone with it?” and “Do you have negative feelings about corporations?”. I answered the questions honestly but also had a look of “what the hell?” on my face. After we’re officially announced as the jury, we learn that 26 year old Max Noah is suing Walgreens Pharmacy (Walgreen Co.) for the amount of $12.5 million dollars. Yes, you read that right. Max must have been trying to buy his own island or something, because, damn!
Over the course of the trial, we learn that Max Noah had Type 1 Diabetes since the age of 7. For the most part he was in good shape, and had his diabetes under control. This is where sh*t gets REAL, at around 4pm on March 25, 2009, Max visited the Walgreens pharmacy to purchase some regular insulin over the counter because he was running low, and wasn’t sure when his shipment of regular insulin would get to him. The pharmacy clerk told him that he would need a prescription for that, but Max told the clerk he was sure he didn’t need a prescription because he has purchased regular insulin over the counter before. The clerk checks with the pharmacist on deck and learns that Max was correct. The clerk places the box of insulin on the counter. Max notices the box looked different but the clerk led him to believe that it was indeed regular insulin. Max used this insulin at the time of purchase. Later that evening, at around 1:30am, Max sees a State Trooper on the highway, sticks his middle up at him, and provokes the State Trooper to chase his car with flashing blue lights. During the chase, Max slams his vehicle in a ditch and hits a guard rail. The State Trooper sees Max’s insulin pump and realizes something isn’t right, and the EMT arrived on the scene within minutes, checked Max’s blood sugar and discovered he had a blood sugar level of 24! Anyone that’s familiar with diabetes will tell you that this is SEVERELY low. They gave Max some type of glucose paste to get his sugar back up, and asked if he wanted to go to the Emergency Room. Max declined, said he was fine and the State Trooper took him home because his car was good and eff’d up. It turns out Walgreens gave Max the wrong insulin! He requested “regular insulin” which would be U-100, but received a bottle of U-500, which is a much more concentrated insulin and 5 x the amount of what he would normally use and ONLY available by prescription. Using that insulin caused Max’s hypoglycemic event, which unfortunately caused the car accident. Walgreens acknowledged their mistake and apologized to Max Noah and his family.
Max’s attorney, Grover McCain, presented evidence that the hypoglycemia and car accident damaged Max’s frontal lobe area of his brain. McCain argued that Max was a kind, friendly A/B student before the accident. He stated Max’s math and social skills were drastically changed due to the accident. There was LOTS of witness testimony which consisted of Max’s father, Vann Noah, and 2 of Max’s close friends, Geoffrey and Lucas. They all spoke highly of Max and stated he was a great, smart person that spoke very well, but after the accident they noticed he was apathetic, extremely irritable, and even spoke differently and sent text messages that were barely legible. Lucas even told us that Max was the first person he came out as Gay to because he felt he was a trustworthy friend. Awwww that’s sweet, right?! His attorney then brought a range expert witnesses from Doctors, Neuropsychologists, Diabetes specialist, and Pharmacy managers to explain to the jury about the dangers of hypoglycemia and how it can cause brain damage, and what policies and safety laws a pharmacy must follow in order to not compromise a patient’s safety. They all testified that Walgreens made a TERRIBLE mistake and violated safety codes across the board by issuing U-500 to Max without a prescription. They explained Max’s entire medical history and determined Max’s control of his diabetes wasn’t ideal, but he pretty much had it together. Baaaaaby there were so many notes I had to take, I almost used all the paper in that court notepad. One of the expert witnesses measured the amount of insulin removed from the bottle and determined Max used the wrong insulin for a period of 2 weeks, which coincides with Max’s testimony. It took Max’s attorney almost a week to present all his evidence, and honestly he didn’t do a bad job of painting Max as this “poor kid” that was hurt by the hands of Walgreens.
Max’s attorney almost had me convinced until Walgreen Co’s defense attorney, Robert Levin, pulled out RECEIPTS on dat azz and poked holes all up and through Max’s testimony! He showed notes from the Doctors Max saw that stated Max used the U-500 insulin for a period of 3 days and not 2 weeks, and presented Max’s transcript dating all the way back to 8th grade, proving that Max made a few A’s and B’s over the years, but he was hardly an “A/B student”. From the moment Max started college, it was obvious school was his least important priority. He flunked out of the university he attended due to a low GPA and not attending class, and was told by the university he needs to get his GPA up at a community college in order to qualify for readmission. The defense showed us that he attended 3 (or maybe 4, I can’t remember the exact number) different community colleges and his GPA was a 0.0 one semester. I’m like, Daaaaamn homie, did you even TRY? We then discovered that Max and his parents only gave partial medical history to Doctors, basically only telling the Doctors what they wanted them to know, and not his medical history in its entirety. The defense pretty much painted the picture that Max is a lazy, unemployed, rebellious, privileged college Frat boy that doesn’t control his health as well as he said he did. It took the defense attorney around 3 days to present his case.
The judge gives us a verdict sheet and his jury instructions so we can now finally discuss the case and deliberate. The jury instructions told us the laws we have to follow in determining our verdict, and it was longer than Homer Simpson’s grocery list. The verdict sheet had 5 questions about the case that all 12 of us had to agree on. The 1st question asked us did Walgreens cause Max’s injury? We all quickly answered yes because Walgreen’s acknowledged their mistake and apologized for it. The 2nd question asked us did Max add contributory negligence to his injury? We voted yes because of the evidence that showed Max missed a few Doctor appointments, and failed take the necessary steps to make his condition better. The 3rd question asked did Walgreen Co. commit a willful or wanton act that caused Max’s injury? We voted yes and agreed that the act was wanton because Walgreens pharmacy broke the law and issued a prescription only product over the counter. Questions 4 and 5 was where we deliberated the most. The 4th question asked exactly what amount should Max receive to compensate for Walgreen’s negligence. EVERYONE in the jury agreed that Max’s attorney didn’t prove that Max suffered $12.5 million worth of damage, so that amount was definitely out of the question. We deliberated for hours on this issue. We all agreed that Max does deserves compensation because of Walgreen’s mistake, however some people thought he deserved more than the majority vote, and some people felt he deserved less. After HOURS of deliberating, we couldn’t quite come to agreement on how much Max deserves, so we informed the judge that we were a hung jury. The judge called us back into court and basically got us together. He told us to take a lunch and come back and deliberate more. He told us that if we continue to deliberate and are still not able to agree, then to come holla at him, everyone was like “okay, cool.” So we continue to deliberate and came to an agreement that $200,000 is the amount Max should receive because of Walgreen Co’s negligence, and also, we felt that Max’s attorney didn’t quite prove that Max suffers from a frontal lobe injury. The 5th and last question asked what amount should be reduced because of Max’s contributory negligence. Again, after HOURS of deliberating, we came to an agreement to reduce his award by the amount of $40,000 because of the steps Max failed to take to make his condition better. His total award was the amount of $160,000. (BALLIN!!!)
The burden of proof varied on each question, and in answering the questions, we had to give answers based only on the evidence and not our personal feelings. The jury instructions stated it wasn’t our job to punish Walgreens or to take pity on Max, and our answers had to be fair and unbiased. I’m actually very confident in the verdict we came up with and will back it up 100%. I’m also glad that jury duty selection is every 2 years because…girl. This was definitely an interesting experience. Thanks for reading and allowing me to share it with you.
Love, peace, and lip gloss.