By: Lisa Broadt, Treasure Coast Newspapers
STUART — The foreman of a jury that found environmentalist Maggy Hurchalla liable for contract interference and ordered her to pay $4.4 million is guilty of juror misconduct, Hurchalla’s legal team said in court documents this week.
Should Judge William Roby agree that the juror’s part-time Florida residency and undisclosed criminal history made him ineligible to serve, Hurchalla could receive a new trial, opening yet another chapter in the five-year legal saga.
Owners of Lake Point, a mining and water-treatment project near Lake Okeechobee, sued Hurchalla in 2013 for contract interference. The company claimed that instructions Hurchalla gave to Martin County commissioners amounted to sabotage and cost the company millions of dollars in lost business.
In February, a six-person jury agreed with the allegations and awarded Lake Point $4.4 million after just 90 minutes of deliberation. Hurchalla — who has described the case as an attack on her First Amendment right — immediately vowed to appeal, and in April did so to the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Now Hurchalla, 77, is entitled to a new trial in Circuit Court, where the trial was held, her attorneys said Monday.
That’s because jury foreman Steven Hursh is not a Florida resident — a requirement for jury duty — but in fact lives in Colorado and operates a business there, attorneys said in the documents filed in appeals court.
Hursh, 55, also “deliberately concealed” two fishing-related criminal misdemeanors, information that likely would have excluded him from the jury, according to Hurchalla's legal team…