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Evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence. Ind. R. Evid. 403.
The husband of the administratrix, an ironworker, fell to his death through an unprotected opening in precast concrete nearly forty-five feet above the ground. The administratrix filed a wrongful death action against the defendant contractor. The trial court assigned 100 percent fault to the contractor. On appeal, the contractor complained about several issues regarding evidence. The contractor argued that it was error not admitting into evidence the deposition of the expert witness of the administratrix, who was not present to testify. The contractor further argued that the trial court erred in excluding evidence of the victim’s blood alcohol content from a sample taken at the time of the autopsy. Moreover, the contractor argued that trial court erred in admitting testimony regarding construction industry custom and practice and expert testimony regarding the meaning of various contract terms.
Did the trial court err in its decision to admit or exclude several evidence in this case?
The court affirmed the judgment of the lower court. The. court found that the deposition of the expert witness of the administratrix, who was not present to testify was properly excluded because of a danger of unfair prejudice or confusion of the jury, and it also was cumulative testimony. The court found further that the deceased's blood test was not reliable, because of the condition of the blood; thus, the evidence pointing to a possible amount of alcohol in the deceased's blood was properly excluded. It had also been proper for the trial court to admit evidence regarding construction industry custom and practice and expert testimony regarding the meaning of various contract terms. The evidence objected to was relevant to establish the standard of care which accompanied the contractor's contractual duty of safety.