Gone to Pot

Plaintiff filed a medical negligence lawsuit. She enjoyed an occasional joint, before and after her injury. At trial, the defendant called four witnesses to say that the use of pot could affect a doctor’s treatment of her. None testified that it did affect treatment. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant.

A Florida appellate court reversed, holding that “In the absence of such evidence, the doctors’ testimony that a patient’s use of marijuana could have an impact on treatment decisions did not logically tend to prove or disprove any fact of consequence to the outcome of Shaw’s action. Accordingly, it was irrelevant, and should not have been permitted.”

The Court went on to say that “[e]ven if we assume that the evidence regarding Shaw’s marijuana use had some marginal relevance, however, the outcome remains the same. By repeated reference to Shaw’s marijuana use in opening statement, during the doctors’ testimony, and in closing argument, the marijuana use became a feature of the trial. As such, any marginal probative value it might have had was clearly outweighed ‘by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues [and] misleading the jury.'”

The case is Shaw v. Jain; read the opinion here.

Thanks to Matt at Abstract Appeal for telling me about this opinion.