Thiel v. Southern Pacific Co.

328 U.S. 217 (1946)


Thiel (P) jumped out of the window of a moving train operated by Southern Pacific Company (D). P sued claiming that the agents of D knew he was 'out of his normal mind' and that he should not have been accepted as a passenger or else P should have been guarded. And that, having accepted him as a passenger without such precautions D was negligent. D removed to the federal district court. After demanding a jury trial, P moved to strike out the entire jury panel, alleging inter alia that 'mostly business executives or those having the employer's viewpoint are purposely selected on said panel, thus giving a majority representation to one class or occupation and discriminating against other occupations and classes, particularly the employees and those in the poorer classes who constitute, by far, the great majority of citizens eligible for jury service.' That motion was denied. Evidence did show that the clerk of the court and the jury commissioner intentionally excluded from the jury lists of persons who worked for daily wages. Petitioner then attempted to withdraw his demand for a jury trial, but D refused to consent. A jury of twelve was chosen. P again made the same challenge as before and added that six of the twelve were closely affiliated and connected with D. The court rejected the claims. D got the verdict and P renewed the claims again and asked that the verdict be set aside. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.