Louisa Judge Sets Aside Jury's $1.2 Million Verdict

LOUISA – In what is believed to be a case of first instance, Lawrence Circuit Judge, John David Preston, has vacated a jury verdict of $1,183,638 in the matter of the death of a newborn at Three Rivers Hospital, a verdict which followed a six-day trial involving four law firms and numerous witnesses.

Following the 9-3 verdict on behalf of Selena Russell, mother of baby Chandler who survived 39 days after birth, a motion to set aside the verdict was filed by attorneys Sean Ragland and Nicholas Hart of Louisville, and Eldred Adams of Louisa, a motion that stated that juror Tommy Ratliff had violated the court's instruction to have no discussion regarding the trial.

The motion contained Facebook communications in which Ratliff purportedly posted, "I'm on jury duty. God help me" to which a Facebook friend allegedly replied, "They're guilty, whatever it is, they're guilty." According to the motion, Ratliff replied to his friend, "Starting to feel that way." Another friend replied, "Fry them with hot sauce." Ratliff voted with the majority in the 9-3 verdict.

Judge Preston in his order stated that juror Ratliff had conversed with others about the litigation and had "expressed an opinion about the case." The order added that the court's "overreaching obligation" was to ensure a system that is free of the taint of wrong doing." A new trial has been set for February 2013.

Selena Russell of Salyersville is represented by Kyle Salyer of Kirk Law Firm and by Richard Hay and Sarah Knight of Somerset.

"I thought I had seen everything," John Kirk said, "but not this. The work of lots of people, jurors and witnesses plus the judge and court personnel has been for nothing because of what happened. While we regret that the verdict had to be vacated and everything done again, we understand the court's ruling."

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