Published on:

Court Finds that Even if Evidence Was Erroneously Admitted in Product Liability Case, the Effect was “Speculative” and Did Not Require a New Trial

Earlier this month, a federal court of appeals heard an appeal from a product liability case involving an allegedly defective door-knob guard. In the case, Coterel v. Dorel Juvenile Group, the plaintiffs were the parents of a boy who successfully disengaged the door-knob guard manufactured by the defendants and was later found dead in a pond. At issue in the appeal was the trial court’s admission of evidence indicating that the young boy had previously disengaged the mechanism and that the deadbolt to the front door was not locked on the day in question.

Door HandleEvidentiary Rulings in Personal Injury Cases

Courts are governed by certain sets of rules when it comes to which evidence can be admitted at trial. Not all evidence is relevant, and not all relevant evidence is admissible for a variety of reasons. In the Coterel case, the parents of the young boy objected to the admission of the evidence that would show the jury that their son had successfully negotiated the door-knob guard in the past and that the parents had forgotten to lock the front deadbolt.

The trial court determined that the evidence was proper and allowed it to be considered by the jury. After the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the court’s alleged error in allowing the evidence to be considered by the jury warranted a new trial.

The appellate court hearing the case did not actually determine whether it was an error to admit the evidence. Instead, the court assumed it was an error and looked at the effect the evidence had on the jury’s decision. The court determined that any effect the evidence had was “speculative,” and thus, a new trial was not appropriate without a showing that the jury relied on the evidence. Since the plaintiffs could not provide any evidence or documentation that the jury relied on the contested evidence when coming to its conclusion, a new trial would not be granted. Due to this decision, the parents of the young boy will not be permitted to seek financial compensation for the loss of their son.

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a dangerous product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a South Florida product liability lawsuit. In these cases, it is critically important that all favorable evidence be admitted and that everything possible be done to prevent unduly prejudicial evidence from being admitted. A skilled personal injury attorney can assist you in preparing your case, leaving you in a favorable position for trial. To learn more about product liability cases, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 954-431-8100 today to set up a free consultation. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Related Blog Posts:

How the “Continuing Course of Treatment” Doctrine May Help Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, July 13, 2016.

Jury Verdict in Premises Liability Lawsuit Reversed by Appellate Court, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, June 27, 2016.

Contact Information