Bill Schnall, MD, was a pediatrician who treated boys as babies and children. He apparently abused them sexually. He gave up his license after being charged with misconduct by the Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission.
He was sued by four of his former patients. After a six week jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of 3 of the 4 plaintiffs. The jury was re-empanelled to consider damages. During this phase, the defendant’s attorney in his closing repeatedly misstated the law and showed a blow up of the language that he was misstating. It was also later revealed that several of the jurors were reading and discussing newspaper articles and television coverage about the trial. One juror revealed that she had been the subject of sexual abuse as a child, which she failed to disclose during jury selection. The trial court granted the plaintiffs a new trial, finding that these things constituted misconduct.
The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the conduct accused of did, in fact, give the trial court a sufficient basis to find that the plaintiffs were entitled to a new trial.