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Aikg, LLC v. Marshall

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Second Division

June 12, 2019

AIKG, LLC
v.
MARSHALL.

          MILLER, P. J., REESE and GOBEIL, JJ.

          Miller, Presiding Judge.

         In this civil action, Tanisha Marshall sued AIKG, LLC, alleging negligence in the operation of its indoor go-kart facility where Marshall sustained serious bodily injuries from a crash while operating a go-kart. Following a jury verdict and judgment in Marshall's favor, AIKG, LLC appeals. In its sole enumeration of error, [1] AIKG argues that the trial court erred in granting Marshall's Batson[2] challenge to the use of its peremptory strikes. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         The record shows that Marshall filed a complaint against AIKG after sustaining injuries from a crash while operating a go-kart at AIKG's facility, and the case proceeded to trial. During voir dire, Marshall raised a Batson challenge regarding AIKG's use of its peremptory strikes. Marshall argued that of the twenty-five members of the jury pool, fifteen were Caucasian and ten were African-American, and of the ten African-American prospective jurors, only three of those jurors were selected. The trial court noted that all of the strikes used by AIKG were against African-Americans, and directed AIKG to respond to Marshall's Batson challenge.

         AIKG began its response by noting that it had not used all of its peremptory strikes and had one strike remaining. AIKG then provided explanations for each of its strikes. As to the first strike, AIKG's counsel explained,

So my first strike was Number 11. This was a retired gentlemen and in my experience I typically do not like retirees, no matter what their background is. I find that they, I don't know if it's from daytime television or what, but in my experience retirees have not been particularly good defense jurors.

         As to the second strike, AIKG's counsel said,

Number 13, . . . we didn't learn that much information from [Juror 13]. The only note that I have written down about [Juror 13] was that she commented during [Mr.] Hoffspiegel's voir dire that when people drive too fast, it can lead to great injuries or death.
Mr. Hoffspiegel, as I saw a preview of his case yesterday, during opening statements, the case that we mistried is going to be spending a great deal of time, I think, in this case discussing speed, which is why I noted that, and which is why I struck Juror Number 13.

         As to the third strike, AIKG's counsel explained,

Juror Number 14, . . . -- Oh, she's also -- She didn't have -- [Juror 13] and [Juror 14] were the two ladies that were seated side by side and neither one of them offered us much information to glean about them despite Mr. Hoffspiegel's fairly extensive voir dire and the only thing that I wrote down with her is that she had a pretty visceral reaction to one of the questions during Mr. Hoffspiegel's examination, which was that she was very, very, very adamant about seatbelt usage and seemed to indicate that she thought that seatbelts would basically prevent any sort of injury.

         Regarding the fourth strike, AIKG's counsel stated,

Number 17 was a juror that I actually followed up on because he said something during Mr. Hoffspiegel's questioning that caused me a little bit of concern and that was that, if you don't follow the rules, people get hurt, and again having access to having heard Mr. Hoffspiegel's opening statement yesterday, and frankly his voir dire both days, I know that this is going to be a ...

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