The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday tossed a $10 million jury verdict against Tyson Foods Inc., granting the company's request for a new trial based on allegations of juror misconduct and a mistake on interpreting the law.
The trial is part of a series of lawsuits filed by 54 growers who sued Tyson, claiming that farmers who did not want to modernize their equipment were given inferior feed and chicks.. The plaintiffs were divided into groups, and the ruling involved the first group to go to trial.
Tyson claimed in the appeal that prospective jurors in the McCurtain County, Okla., trial did not answer questions fully or truthfully on juror questionnaires, and that the trial judge did not allow oral questions on items covered in the forms filled out by panelists.
"This decision affirms our position that the trial in this case was so improperly conducted that the verdict could not stand. The family farmers who raise our chickens are vital to our business and we want them to be successful. Contrary to the claims made in the case, we abide by the terms of the contracts we have with poultry farmers and we strive to ensure all of them are treated fairly," the company said in a news release.
The Supreme Court found that some jurors didn't reveal whether they were involved in other litigation or had criminal records.
"Here, several jurors gave incomplete, untruthful and/or misleading answers when completing the forms in a situation where the attorneys were not only discouraged but also barred from asking any questions covered in the juror questionnaire," the opinion states. "Under these facts ... we determine that Tyson is entitled to a new trial.
Source: AP, The Republic (Columbus, Ind.)