Florida Fourth Circuit Court Judge Bruce Anderson and attorney Matthew Kachergus appearing over the Zoom video platform during what is believed to be the nation's first fully remote civil jury trial to reach a binding verdict.
Jacksonville, FL— Jurors Monday awarded more than $354,000 to a Florida woman for the beating she suffered at the hands of a Jacksonville strip club’s bouncers, handing down what is believed to be the nation’s first binding verdict in a fully remote, state court civil jury trial. Griffin v. Albanese Enterprise, Inc.
Monday’s verdict includes $300,000 for Cayla Griffin’s pain and suffering and more than $54,000 for medical expenses stemming from a February 2018 beating by bouncers at Jacksonville's Paradise Gentlemen’s Club. And it concludes a one-day, damages-only trial over the Zoom platform against the club’s owner, Albanese Enterprise, Inc.
The two-day voir dire in the case was also conducted remotely. CVN covered jury selection and the trial, which is available, free, on demand.
Monday’s award exceeds the roughly $297,000 requested by Griffin’s attorney, Sheppard, White, Kachergus & DeMaggio's Matthew Kachergus.
A default judgment was entered against Albanese in 2019, and the company did not participate in the trial.
The proceeding was part of the Florida Fourth Circuit Court’s participation in the state's remote jury trial pilot program, addressing court disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Traditional jury trials have been suspended throughout the state since March 13.
Monday’s trial focused on the night of the beating and its fallout, with Griffin and her father providing emotional testimony on the lasting physical and emotional impact of her injuries.
Griffin, a former dancer at the club, testified she was beaten during her work shift by a pair of the club’s bouncers, after one of the bouncers told her she needed to leave. She described how one bouncer initially threw her from the club, leaving most of her clothes and possessions inside. When she approached the club’s entrance to retrieve her things, she was hit by both bouncers, who broke the bones surrounding her eye, cracked her teeth, and left her with a concussion.
“Every time someone sees her and makes note of her appearance, whether it’s the scar or the appearance of her eye, she has to relive the events, and she has a very difficult time doing so,” Kachergus told jurors in closings. “It takes her right back to that dark place in the early morning hours of February 17, 2018 and the questions that arose, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ What did I do to deserve this? Why me?’”
The remote nature of the trial led to occasional technical hiccups. For example, one juror’s video briefly lost connection during presentation of evidence on Griffin’s injuries. However, the glitches were resolved with the proceeding generally moving according to schedule.
The Griffin verdict comes about a month after the 11th Circuit’s foray into remote jury proceedings. That trial, which was also part of Florida’s pilot program led to a non-binding verdict in an insurance dispute.
CVN has reached out to Griffin’s attorney and will update this article with his comments.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.