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Fed. R. Evid. 407 excludes evidence of subsequent remedial measures to prove negligence or culpable conduct. Fed. R. Evid. 407. Such measures, however, are admissible for another purpose, such as proving ownership, control, or feasibility of precautionary measures, if controverted, or impeachment.
Plaintiff executrix' diversity action for personal injuries and wrongful death was consolidated with over 600 lawsuits concerning injuries from asbestos exposure that were tried on a reverse bifurcated basis. The jury first determined whether each plaintiff had an asbestos-related disease and the amount of damages, and then determined which defendants were liable to each plaintiff. The jury found for plaintiff for $ 5,917,781 in total damages. After a 6- month trial in the liability phase, the jury's verdict found defendant, asbestos product manufacturer, 10 percent responsible for the death of plaintiff's husband. The trial court denied defendant's claim that the court violated Fed. R. Evid. 407 by admitting evidence of subsequent remedial measures. Crane contended, inter alia, that the district court erred by admitting evidence that Crane placed warnings on its product after decedent's last exposure.
Did the district court err by admitting evidence that Crane placed warnings on its product after decedent's last exposure?
The court held that the trial court erred and seriously prejudiced the liability verdict by admitting evidence that defendant placed warnings on its asbestos product after decedent's last exposure, which was inadmissible as subsequent remedial measures under Fed. R. Evid. 407. The court reversed and remanded for a whole new trial on all issues, including damages.