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Simon v. Kennebunkport

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Brief Fact Summary. The Appellant, Irene Simon (the “Appellant”), fell and broke her hip on a sidewalk in the Appellee town, Kennebunkport (the “Appellee”). The Appellant sued the Appellee, alleging the sidewalk was defective. The Appellant attempted to offer evidence of prior falls at the same location, but the trial court did not allow it.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Other incidents similar to the one causing injury may be admissible as long as the probative value outweighs the danger of unfair prejudice or confusion of the issues, or undue delay.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

These facts were all collateral to the main issue, and should have been excluded, and the reason is, that such evidence tends to draw away the minds of the jury from the point in issue, and to excite prejudice and mislead them; and, moreover, the adverse party, having no notice of such a course of evidence, is not prepared to rebut it.

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Facts. On July 22, 1977, the Appellant, suffered a broken hip when she fell walking on a sidewalk. The Appellant sued the Appellee, claiming her injury was caused by a defect in the sidewalk. A jury determined there was no defect in the sidewalk and found for the Appellee. The trial judge excluded evidence offered by the Appellant that many other people had fallen or stumbled at the same location over the past two years prior to the accident. The trial judge permitted the Appellant to offer evidence that the condition of the sidewalk had not changed since its construction. The Appellant argued that two witnesses would have testified that they saw nearly one person a day fall on that sidewalk.

Issue. Should the evidence of similar falls at the same location be admissible?

Held. Justice Glassman issued the opinion of the Court reversing the trial court, and finding the evidence should have been admitted.

Discussion. The evidence the Appellant wanted to offer was substantially similar to the circumstances surrounding the Appellee’s fall. Further, the evidence is probative on the material issue of whether the sidewalk was defective.

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