Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. HAROLD
J. O'CONNELL, Judge, presiding. Reversed and judgment for
MR. JUSTICE DRUCKER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Defendant, Corrine McKeone, appeals from a verdict and judgment of $5,000 *fn1 in favor of plaintiff who was injured in an automobile collision while a passenger in a car owned by Corrine's husband, defendant William J. McKeone, and driven by their son, defendant William Craig McKeone. Plaintiff testified that she had been hired to do housework for defendant, Corrine McKeone; that on a Saturday morning she desired to go to her own home to pay rent; that Corrine McKeone told her her son to drive plaintiff and her husband there and to bring them back; that the son did pick them up at 7:00 p.m. and that the accident happened while returning to the defendant's residence.
On Friday, March 13, 1964, after the court instructed the jury, the following proceedings were had out of the presence of the jury:
The Court: . . . [W]ill you agree on a sealed verdict?
Mr. Litow [attorney for plaintiff]: Yes, Judge.
The Court: That the Jury can return a sealed verdict and agree that they separate and waive the polling of the Jury?
Mr. Bleloch [attorney for defendant]: I will, your Honor.
The Court: Very well. If you want the Bailiff to call you, will you leave your card with the Bailiff? He will call you and tell you the results.
On the following Monday, the court was informed that the jury had returned one verdict a finding against the defendant, Corrine McKeone, and assessing damages at $5,000 and that the verdict forms as to the two other defendants, William J. and William Craig McKeone, had not been executed. Thereupon the court indicated that it would resubmit the case to the jury and ask them to return verdicts, guilty or not guilty, as to the other two defendants. Counsel for all three defendants in the trial court objected on the grounds that: . . . the Jury having dispersed and having been out in contact with other people all over the weekend and undoubtedly having had an opportunity to discuss it with many people should not be given the case again in the same manner as it was before.
Plaintiff's counsel stated:
Yes. If your Honor please, it would appear from the form of verdict submitted by the Jury, that there is some confusion in the minds of the Jury as to the meaning of the law in this case. And on that theory I would object to the Jury making any reconsideration of this case. They having been dispersed Friday afternoon.
Well, frankly gentlemen, I am not sure whether the Court has the power or the right to ask the Jury to consider a case further than they already have, but fortunately the Jury is here and as both of you have indicated the Jury was instructed to return three verdicts, one for each defendant (emphasis supplied). . . . So, as long as the Jury is ...