A man injured when his motorcycle struck a cow should have his lawsuit reheard because potential jurors were not questioned about their membership in the LDS Church, which owned the animal, the Utah Court of Appeals has decided.
A jury originally rejected claims by James Hornsby that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and two others were negligent in the accident.Before the trial, Hornsby asked the court to question potential jurors about their membership in the church, the positions they held and whether they could objectively evaluate the case.
The judge rejected the questions, saying it was nobody's business what a juror's religious preferences were.
But, in an opinion made public Thursday, the appeals court said jurors should have been questioned about their religion because the LDS Church was one of the parties being sued.
"(The) defendant did not propose to question the prospective jurors as to their specific beliefs," the opinion said. "Whenever a religious organization is a party to the litigation, (questioning) regarding the jury panel's religious affiliations is proper."
Hornsby was injured March 30, 1983, after a cow escaped from Charles Giblett, a farmer on an LDS Church welfare farm, and John Sutton, a nearby property owner. The men were trying to load two cows, owned by the LDS Church, onto a truck after they had wandered onto Sutton's property.
The jury ruled Hornsby was negligent for not stopping.