In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the judgment against the plaintiffs following a jury verdict in favor of the defendants. The state’s high court held that the circuit court did not commit reversible error when it refused to allow the plaintiffs’ attorney additional voir dire time so he could ask “the insurance question.” The lawyer had forgotten to ask it during his initial voir dire. The court referred to another Missouri case for support of its decision, Ivy v. Hawk, 878 S.W. 2d 442 (Mo. Banc 1994).
The Missouri Supreme Court has held that a party has the right to ask the insurance question during voir dire if the proper procedure is followed to avoid unduly highlighting the question. The Missouri Supreme Court noted, however, that Ivy did not divest the circuit court of its discretion to control the proper form and timing of voir dire questioning, including discretion as to whether counsel’s proposed procedure would unduly highlight the question.
The court then affirmed, holding that because plaintiff’s counsel forgot to ask the insurance question during multiple hours of voir dire, the court acted within its discretion. The lower court’s finding is that it would unduly highlight the question to allow counsel to recommence his questioning to ask the insurance question after voir dire had otherwise concluded.