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Judge vacates $4.75 million judgment against Idlewild Baptist Church

LUTZ — A judge vacated a $4.75 million judgment against Idlewild Baptist Church this month after it was found that two jurors lied about being involved in previous litigation.

In September, a jury awarded a $5 million judgment to a young man whose injury during the church's annual ski trip in 2003, when he was 14, cost him the use of his left foot.

His mother, Kim Jones, a plaintiff in the case, was held by the jury to be 5 percent responsible, leaving Idlewild to pay the remaining $4.75 million.

But on July 19, Hillsborough County Circuit Judge James Arnold granted the megachurch a new trial after two jurors, including the foreman, were found to have been involved in previous litigation.

To prove juror misconduct, Idlewild showed that the jurors concealed information during questioning, that the lawsuits they had been involved in were relevant to jury service and that the failure to disclose the information was not because of the church's lack of diligence.

In the order, Arnold said both jurors concealed "current, material and significant information" during jury selection. The foreman had been involved in six prior lawsuits. Another juror had two previous lawsuits that she first denied and then recalled when questioned, the order said.

James B. Thompson Sr., the church's attorney, said the plaintiffs have the right to appeal the judge's decision before the retrial. The plaintiffs' attorneys could not be reached.

Biz Carson can be reached at ecar son@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2441.

Judge vacates $4.75 million judgment against Idlewild Baptist Church 07/25/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 25, 2011 10:14pm]
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