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Thiel v. Southern Pacific Co.

United States Supreme Court
328 U.S. 217 (1946)


Theil (plaintiff) jumped out of a moving passenger train operated by Southern Pacific Company (Southern Pacific) (defendant). Theil brought suit against Southern, alleging that he was not mentally competent to board the train, and that Southern Pacific should not have allowed him to do so, or should have guarded him once he was on the train. He demanded a jury trial. When the jury was empanelled, Theil moved to strike the entire jury, arguing that the jurors were all business executives or sympathetic to business owners, and that several of the jurors were affiliated with Southern Pacific, so they would be unable to be impartial. The court denied the motion. Theil renewed his motion and attempted to withdraw his jury demand, but the court again denied his motion. The jury found in favor of Southern Pacific, and Theil filed a motion to set aside the verdict or, in the alternative, to grant a new trial, which was denied. The court of appeals affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on the issue of whether Theil’s motion to strike the jury was properly denied.

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