The plaintiff is a farmer in State A; the plaintiff grows tomatoes and other crops. After harvesting the tomatoes, the plaintiff packs them in special boxes and ships them to wholesalers. The plaintiff buys the special boxes from the defendant, a large manufacturer of specialized packing materials.
The plaintiff recently purchased one lot of boxes; the boxes have a hidden defect. Initially, the plaintiff packs the tomatoes in these boxes without incident, per usual. But due to the defect, the boxes fall apart while in transit to the wholesaler, ruining two shipments of tomatoes. The plaintiff then sues the defendant in the United States District Court for the District of State A. Assume that the court has personal and subject-matter jurisdiction, and that venue is proper.
The plaintiff serves the summons and complaint on the defendant. Before answering the complaint, the defendant files a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. (Rule) 12(b)(6). The judge denies the motion. The defendant then files its answer. The answer includes the defense of insufficient service of process under Rule 12(b)(5).
After the pleadings are closed, and once discovery is complete, the judge tells the parties that they may make any appropriate pretrial motions at the upcoming pretrial conference. At the conference, the defendant moves to dismiss the case for insufficient service of process under Rule 12(b)(5). The judge summarily denies the motion, without allowing the defendant to make any arguments or present any evidence.
The case then proceeds to jury selection. During voir dire, the defendant’s attorney asks each prospective juror whether he or she has ever been involved in a dispute with a supplier of goods. Juror #10 replies that he has. He explains that several years ago, he ran a landscaping company. The company purchased grass seed from a supplier. One shipment brought defective seed, which carried mold spores that infested his customers’ yards. Juror #10 goes on to say that the episode nearly drove his company out of business. When questioned further, Juror #10 states that he can be impartial despite this experience, because “every situation is different,” he says.
The defendant’s attorney challenges Juror #10 for cause, arguing that Juror #10 cannot be impartial, due to his prior bad experience with a supplier. The judge denies the challenge. Because the defense has run out of peremptory challenges, Juror #10 is seated on the jury. The jury returns a unanimous verdict for the plaintiff, and the court enters judgment on the verdict.
The defendant appeals the verdict, arguing that (1) the judge erred in denying the motion to dismiss for insufficient service of process, and (2) the judge erred in denying the defendant’s challenge to Juror #10. Assume that these issues are properly preserved for appeal.
- Did the judge commit reversible error by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss? Explain.
- Did the judge commit reversible error by denying the defendant’s challenge to Juror #10? Explain.