Grobeson v. City of Los Angeles, 190 Cal.App.4th 778 (2010)

A jury rejected Mitchell Grobeson’s claims against the City of Los Angeles and Daniel Watson for alleged unlawful discrimination, harassment, retaliation and constructive discharge. The trial court granted Grobeson’s motion for a new trial based on juror misconduct, and the Court of Appeal affirmed except that it ordered the unlawful retaliation claim that was asserted against Watson to be dismissed under the authority of Jones v. Lodge at Torrey Pines P’ship, 42 Cal. 4th 1158 (2008). In support of the motion for a new trial, Grobeson presented a declaration from one of the jurors who said she had heard another juror say during a break in the testimony of Watson that she “liked Watson’s voice” and that she had “made up [her] mind already. I’m not going to listen to the rest of the stupid argument.” Grobeson submitted another declaration from his lawyer who had interviewed the juror in question over the telephone after the trial concluded. The juror told the lawyer, “I made up my own opinion [to vote against Grobeson] in the second week of trial” and “I was very irritated when you were conducting the case.” The Court of Appeal affirmed the grant of a new trial after concluding that the juror’s statement during the trial was a “statement of bias” and that the juror’s prejudgment of the case improperly influenced the verdict. See also Turman v. Turning Point of Central Cal., Inc., 2010 WL 5158351 (Cal. Ct. App. 2010) (jury verdict in employer’s favor reversed and new trial ordered in absence of substantial evidence that employer took corrective action to alleviate hostile work environment, but punitive damages allegations were properly stricken).