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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Carmen Puentes, a nursing home resident, sued HCCI-San Antonio, Altman Nursing, and Jerry Tristan for negligence, gross negligence, assault, penal code violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress related to a fall and allegations of mistreatment at the Alta Vista Nursing Center, a nursing home HCCI had purchased from Altman four months earlier. Puentes died while the suit was pending, and her heir Jesus Cortez pursued the claim. During voir dire, counsel questioned veniremember Snider, who had handled automobile claims as an insurance adjuster. Snider said that his experience might give him “preconceived notions.” “I would feel bias,” he said, “but I mean, I can’t answer anything for certain.” When the trial judge asked him to explain his bias, he said that he had seen “lawsuit abuse . . . so many times.” He said that “in a way,” the defendant was “starting out ahead,” and explained: “Basically � and I mean nothing against their case, it’s just that we see so many of those. It’s just like, well, I don’t know if it’s real or not. And this type [of] case I’m not familiar with whatsoever, so that’s not a bias I should have. It’s just there.” Upon further questioning, he agreed that at times when he evaluated automobile claims, he found that they had merit, and that he was “willing to try” to listen to the case and decide it on the law and the evidence. Cortez challenged Snider, arguing that he had demonstrated bias, but the trial court denied the challenge. Cortez therefore had to use his last peremptory challenge to strike Snider, and veniremember 7 was empaneled. Cortez never challenged veniremember 7 for cause and never stated why he found 7 objectionable, but he maintained that he would have struck 7 had he been able. The jury returned a $9 million verdict against the defendants, but after reduction for settlement credits and the jury’s apportionment of fault, the trial court rendered judgment against HCCI and Tristan for $87,869.36 in actual damages and against Tristan for $250,000 in exemplary damages. Cortez, unsatisfied with the judgment, refused tender from HCCI and filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied. Cortez appealed the judgments against HCCI and Tristan, on the ground that veniremember Snider should have been dismissed for cause. The court of appeals affirmed. HOLDING: Affirmed. While it was unclear whether Cortez gave his notice to the trial court before or after he delivered his strike list, it did appear that the two events were roughly contemporaneous, the court stated. More importantly, notice had been given before the jury was seated, and the trial court stated on the record “it’s preserved,” the court noted. The court concluded that error was preserved. Cortez did not waive error by failing to state why veniremember 7 was objectionable. ” [W]e do not know why veniremember 7 was objectionable. But as in Casteel [Crown Life Insurance Company v. Casteel, 22 S.W.3d 378 (Tex. 2000)], we cannot know for certain that his inclusion did not affect the verdict, so we presume harm.” Cortez argued, citing several court of appeals opinions, that veniremembers cannot be rehabilitated � that once a veniremember has expressed bias, further questioning is not permitted and the veniremember must be excused. The court disagreed that there was such a rule, and to the extent those court of appeals’ decisions conflict with this opinion, the Texas Supreme Court disapproved those cases. Addressing the veniremember’s affirmative response to a question by Cortez’s counsel that the defendants “would be starting out ahead” of the other party before he even got into the jury box, the court found that this could not be grounds for disqualification. OPINION: Medina, J., delivered the court’s opinion. Green, J., did not participate in the decision.

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