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26 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Evidence is relevant if
it has any tendency to make a material fact more probable or less probable that would be the case without the evidence.
All relevant evidence is admissible unless
1. an exclusionary rule applies OR

2. the court makes a discretionary determination that the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by PRAGMATIC CONSIDERATIONS
Pragmatic Considerations used to exclude relevant evidence
1. danger of unfair prejudice
2. confusion of the issues
3. misleading the jury
4. undue delay
5. waste of time
6. unduly cumulative
Similar Occurances
In general, if evidence concerns some time, event or person other than that invovled in the case at hand, the evidence is inadmissiable.
6 situations in which similar occurances may be admissible
1. P's accident history - where the cause of P's damages are at issue

2. Similar accidents caused by the same event or condition

3. Intent in issue

4. comparable sales on issue of value

5. Habit

6. Industrial Custom as standard of care
Similar occurances - P's accident history
Generally inadmissible b/c it shows nothing more than the fact that the P is accident prone.

BUT if P is trying to prove for example a neck injury due to the accident then evidence of a prior accident is admissible to prove that the injury was not sustained in this accident but in the prior accident.
Similar occurances - Similar accidents caused by same event or condition
Other accidents involving the same instrumentality or condition, and occuring under substantially similar circumstances, may be admitted for 3 potential purposes:

1. existance of dangerous condition
2. causation
3. prior notice to the D
Similar occurances - Intent
A D's prior conduct may provide inference of intent on later occasion.

EX - P sue DCo for gender discrimination - she seeks to show that DCo has hired no females in last 6 years despite qualifications. Admissible b/c the treatment of the other women candidates tends to show discriminatory intent
Similar occurances - Comparable sales on issue of value
Selling price of other property of similar type, in the same general location, and close in time to period at issue, is some evidence of value of property at issue
Similar occurances - Habit
Habit of a person or routine of a business organization is admissible as circumstantial evidence of how the person or business acted on the occasion at issue in the litigation.

Habit has 2 defining characteristics:
1. frequency of the conduct (if given # look for 6+ times)

2. particularity of the conduct

Key words: always, invariably, automatically, instinctively
Similar Occurances - industrial custom as standard of care
Evidence as to how others in the same trade or industry has acted in the recent past may be admitted as some evidence as to how a party in the instant litigation should have acted, i.e. as evidence of the appropriate standard of care.
Policy Based Exclusions - 4 types
1. liability insurance
2. subsequent remedial measures
3. Settlements
4. Offer to pay hospital or medical expenses
Policy Based Exclusion - Liability insurance
Evidence that a person has or does not have liability insurance is inadmissible to prove the person's fault or absence of fault.

Policy: we don't want jury to base decision on availability of insurance instead of the merits of the case.

But evidence of insurance may be admissible for some other purpose, such as proof of ownership if the D disputes this point OR for the purpose of impeaching a witness.

EX - P is hurt on D's property. D denies negligence and also defends in the alternative that he is not the owner of the property.

P cannot introduce evidence of insurance to prove D's negligence BUT P CAN introduce evidence of insurance to prove D's ownership of the land because and ONLY because D put that issue in question.

EX - W testifies that D was not negligent. W works for insurance company. P may introduce evidence of D's insurance to show bias on the part of W b/c she is an employee of a company with a financial stake in the outcome.
Limiting instruction
Judge should give the jury a limiting instruction in situations where evidence is introduced and is properly admissible for one purpose but is inadmissible for antoher.
Policy based exclusion - subsequent remedial measures
We want to encourage post-accident repairs in order to avoid future accidents so evidence that after the accident the D made repairs or design or policy changes is inadmissible.

BUT again if the D disputes ownership/control or feasibility of safer condition then such evidence may be admissible for that purpose.
P bought cup of coffee at D's store and scalded her tongue b/c coffee was too hot. P sues D in negligence. D denies negligence.

P seeks to introduce evidence at trial that after the accident D installed thermostats on the coffee maker. P contends that this is an admission by D that better safety controls were feasible. Admissible?
No. Can't use subsequent remedial measures to prove negligence. P wants to show feasibility but feasibility was not controverted by D so the evidence in inadmissible.
P bought cup of coffee at D's store and scalded her tongue b/c coffee was too hot. P sues D in negligence. D denies negligence.

P contends that D's negligence consisted of the failure to place warnings on its coffee cups indicating that it was too hot for consumption. D defends saying it was impossible to affix labels. P seeks to introduce evidence that after the accident D began using cups with pre-printed warnings. Admissible
Yes - Now the D is controverting the feasibility of a safer design.
NOTE - products liability based on strict liability
Manufacturer's subsequent remedial measures are inadmissible to show the existence of a defect in the product at the time of the accident.
Policy based exclusion - settlements (civil)
Evidence of a settlement or offer to settle as disputed claim is inadmissible to prove liability or weakness in a party's case b/c we have a policy of encouraging settlement.

Statements of fact made during settlement talks are also inadmissible b/c we want to encourage free and open discussion of possible settlement.

But evidence of a settlement may be admissible to show bias.
H and F were simultaneously struck by a truck being driven by Arnold. H and F both filed suit against A, each seeking $100k. A denied all allegations.

Before trial, H settled with A for $50k. When F's case went to trial, F sought to introduce the H-A settlement as evidence that A, in effect, acknowledged his fault. Admissible?
No. F is seeking to use settlement as evidence of liability.
Same accident between H and F and Arnold.

Before F's case went to trial, F and A met to discuss settlement. During talks, F said "I'll take $50k I was jaywalking" A declined the offer. At trial can A introduce (1) F's offer to settle and (2) F's admission that he was jaywalking?
(1) no, offer to settle cannot be introduced as evidence of weakness of case

(2) No, a statement of fact made during settlement talks is inadmissible.
Same H and F accident with A.

At the trial of F's case, A calls H as a witness and H testified to the effect taht A was not negligent. On cross of H, should F be allowed to offer evidence of the H-F settlement?
Yes, the evidence is not for the purpose of showing A's liability but to impeach H by showing his bias.
BUT there must be a disputed claim to exclude evidence of settlement.
Dispute can be to either the validity of the claim or the amount of damages.
A and B are in accident. B runs up to A and says "I'll give you $100k to settle if you don't sue" Admissible at trial?
Yes. A had not asserted any claim against B at the time of the offer thus the exclusionary rule does not apply.
A and B collide. A sent a letter to B saying, the accident was your fault and I demand $100k in damages. B called A on the phone and said you're right it was my fault and I owe you $100k but you might not get it in court so I'll give you $50k now or you can sue. Can A introduce that statement in court?
Yes. Now A has a claim BUT B has not disputed liability or damages. He agreed he owed but tried to extort A, no policy reason to exclude this type of statement and it is properly admissible.
What if instead B admited liability but disputed damages.
Not admissible. There is a dispute over the amount and either a dispute as to validity or damages is enough to make the entire statement inadmissible.