“Other Similar Incident” Evidence

There are relatively few products liability cases filed in Tennessee, very few actually tried, and even fewer appealed.

So, when a products case hits the appellate courts, we all learn.  And when  evidence issues are  discussed in a product liability opinion there is cause for absolute jubilation.

Sparks v. Mena  held that "the trial court erred in excluding evidence of other similar incidents involving actual or potential surgical injuries with the same model of device, and  … the trial court erred in excluding the testimony of plaintiff’s expert witness." 

On the OSI issue, the Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge mistakenly applied the legal standard of TRE 404(b) to exclude the evidence and that the error necessitated a new trial.  The opinion has an extensive discussion of the law on this issue that is a must-read for anyone trying a products liability case.

The Court of Appeals also reversed the trial judge’s decision to exclude plaintiff’s expert witness.  The opinion has an excellent review of the standards for admissibility after the Brown v. Crown Equipment Corp.opinion.

The case number is No. E2006-02473-COA-R3-CV.  The opinion was released on February 5, 2008.