(CN) – A medical malpractice trial can’t continue after the defendant doctor gave medical care to a jury member, the Montana Supreme Court ruled. When a widow’s attorney assumed the role of the dead husband, described dying and being cut open on the autopsy table, and his sadness at losing the chance to watch his children grow up, the scene became so intense that a juror nearly passed out. The defendant attended to her, with the help of three jurors who were nurses.
Amy Heidt sued Dr. Faranak Argani for medical malpractice after her husband died. After the courtroom drama, Heidt’s attorney moved for a mistrial, but the court allowed the case to continue, asking the jury not to allow the incident to affect their decision. The members of the jury who were not nurses were taken out of the courtroom during the excitement.
The jury decided in favor of Argani.
On appeal, Justice McGrath ruled that the real-life medical drama should have triggered a mistrial.
“The effect of this on a jury is immeasurable, whether or not individual jurors admit it or even consciously know it,” Justice McGrath wrote.