Law School Case Brief
Anderson v. Malloy - 700 F.2d 1208 (8th Cir. 1983)
Federal Rule of Evidence 407 prohibits the admission of evidence of subsequent remedial measures when the evidence is offered to prove negligence or culpable conduct. However, the rule expressly does not require the exclusion of such evidence when offered for another purpose. To be admissible any evidence not excluded by rule 407 must still be relevant under rule 402 and its probative value must outweigh any dangers associated with its admission under rule 403.
In January and February of 1979, the Andersons were guests in a motel in the St. Louis area owned and operated by the defendants, Malloy, Zes, and Gibson. On the evening of February 7, 1979, while Linda Anderson was alone in the motel room, an unknown assailant forcibly entered the room and assaulted and raped her. The Andersons filed suit alleging diversity jurisdiction in federal district court in St. Louis, alleging that the defendants negligently failed to provide them with reasonably safe lodging, that the defendants breached an express warranty to provide reasonably safe lodging, and that the defendants fraudulently misrepresented the level of security provided to the motel's guests. During the trial, the district court made four evidentiary rulings excluding portions of the plaintiffs' evidence. The court refused to admit (1) the testimony of a woman who was raped at the defendants' motel five months prior to the time Linda Anderson was raped; (2) evidence that an apartment complex adjoining the defendants' motel was a "breeding ground for crime;" (3) evidence of security measures taken by other hotels and motels in the area of the defendants' motel; and (4) evidence that, after Linda Anderson was raped, the defendants installed safety chains and "peep holes" in the entrance doors of the motel rooms. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the motel, and the Andersons sought appellate review.
Did the trial court err in excluding the evidence of subsequent remedial measures that would have rebutted the inferences made by the motel that it had done everything possible to protect the safety of the lodgers?
The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit determined that the evidence of what other hotels did to protect lodgers should not have been excluded, but the exclusion of that evidence was not prejudicial. The court further found that the evidence of subsequent remedial measures should have been allowed into evidence to rebut the inferences created by appellee motel, and its exclusion was prejudicial to the Andersons. The court therefore reversed and remanded for a new trial.
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