Evidence: Similar Occurrences

  • Similar Occurrences – To be relevant, evidence must relate to some time, event or person involved in the present litigation; otherwise, it is not relevant, BUT in some limited and specific circumstances, other similar occurrences may be admissible, even if they related to a time, event, or person other than that involved in present litigation if they are probative of a material issue and the probativeness outweighs the risk of confusion or unfair prejudice.

    • Habit evidence – Habit describes a person's regular response to a specific set of circumstances. In contrast, character describes one's disposition in respect to general traits. Evidence of habit of a person is relevant to prove that the conduct of the person on a particular occasion was in conformity with the habit (‍ look for words like "instinctively" and "automatically" )

    • Plaintiff's Accident History – Generally, a P's history of accidents or lawsuits is inadmissible, but P's prior accidents may be admissible to show (i) a fraudulent scheme or plan or (ii) causation.

    • Similar Accidents or Injuries Caused by the Same Event or Condition – Evidence of prior similar accidents are generally inadmissible, BUT other accidents involving the same instrumentality or condition, and occurring under substantially similar circumstances may be admitted to prove (1) the existence of a dangerous condition; (2) causation; (3) that D had prior notice of the dangerous condition.

    • Intent in Issue – Similar conduct previously committed by a party may be introduced to prove the party's present motive or intent when such elements are relevant (e.g. history of school segregation admissible to show motive for current exclusion of minorities).

    • Comparable Sales on Issue of Value – evidence of the selling price of comparable property (similar type, in the same general location, in the same time period) is admissible as evidence of the value of the property at issue.

    • Industrial Custom as Standard of Care – evidence as to how others in the same trade or industry have 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).