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Psst! There’s an insurance policy

You know they want to know, and you know they won’t hesitate to speculate.

That’s right, we’re talking about whether a party has insurance coverage and what difference it will make to a jury’s verdict.

But Big Stone Gap U.S. District Judge Jim Jones didn’t have to speculate in XCoal Energy & Resources LP v. Smith. Today Jones set aside the jury verdict for Smith in XCoal’s fraud suit after word got back to the judge that one of the jurors shared her husband’s observation of a courtroom discussion – outside the jury’s hearing – on whether defendant could use an exhibit that referenced the plaintiff’s insurance claim.

After a hearing, Jones found that, “[r]egardless of the varying recollections by the jurors” of what the juror had said, she “told other jurors substantially as she testified to, namely, that they did not need to feel guilty about denying the plaintiff their verdict, because her husband had learned that the plaintiff had insurance that may have covered its loss.”

She was probably just trying to be helpful.
By Deborah Elkins

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