Opinion:Beyrer v. The Mule, 2021 OK 45
Subject matter:Juror misconduct
Date Decided:September 28, 2021
Trial Court:Oklahoma County District Court; Judge Timmons
Route to this Court:Cert granted to review a decision of OCOCA reversing the trial court’s order denying a new trial. 
Facts:At trial, the jury returned a verdict for the Defendant on the Plaintiff’s premises liability claim (she fell and fractured a hip at Defendant’s restaurant). Plaintiff then filed a motion for a new trial alleging juror misconduct during voir dire. Plaintiff alleged that a juror (the jury foreman) failed to disclose his status as a named defendant in a motor vehicle case fourteen years earlier (the juror was silent in response to questions regarding involvement in prior litigation). The trial court examined the nature of the juror’s prior litigation and determined that it was not material to the action then before the trial court. Specifically, the juror (1) was a minor at the time of the prior action, (2) did not talk to a lawyer or participate in the prior action in any manner, and (3) the record shows both the prior action was settled shortly after filing and no economic detriment was suffered by the juror as a result of the prior litigation.The trial court denied the motion for new trial and the Plaintiff appealed. OCOCA reversed and the Oklahoma Supreme Court granted cert to review OCOCA’s decision. 
Standard of Review:An appellate determination of the proper trial court standard for adjudicating juror misconduct on a motion for new trial presents an issue of law reviewed de novo on appeal. 
Analysis:“The question presented is whether a District Court may examine the circumstances of a juror’s prior litigation history for the purpose of determining whether the juror’s failure to disclose this history during voir dire did not affect materially the substantial rights of a party. We answer in the affirmative…We conclude a trial court’s adjudication of a motion for new trial may include an examination of the circumstances of the juror’s litigation history when the motion is based upon a prospective juror’s failure to disclose litigation history during voir dire.”Defendant submitted an affidavit in its response to Plaintiff’s motion for new trial that explained the juror’s understanding and interpretation of the relevant voir dire questions as well as the facts relating to the juror’s prior legal history. The record shows no objection to the affidavit. The trial court’s order does not have findings of fact and conclusions of law. Any finding of fact necessary for adjudicating a motion for a new trial is presumed when the fact was before the trial court when it decided the motion.
Note that the issue of costs was also adjudicated by OCOCA (trial court reversed on award of costs) and no party has sought certiorari to review that issue. Therefore, the opinion of OCOCA should not be vacated as to that portion of the opinion adjudicating costs. 
Outcome:Opinion of OCOCA vacated in part and withdrawn from publication; Order of the District Court denying Motion for New Trial affirmed; Order of District Court granting costs reversed; Cause remanded for further proceedings. 
Vote:9-0. Opinion by Edmonson, J. Concur: Darby, C.J., Kauger, Winchester, Combs, and Gurich JJ. Concur in Result: Kane, V.C.J., Rowe, and Kuehn, JJ. 
OtherThe 2005 case involving the juror at issue can be found by searching the juror’s name on OSCN. The OCOCA decision was a split decision with one judge concurring, one judge concurring specially, and one judge dissenting. Nevertheless, OCOCA released the decision for publication (OKSCT withdrew the decision from publication).