Evidence of a repairman's usual habit or routine practice in making repairs was admissible under Fed. R. Evid. 406 to show the cause of his injury and because he knew of a hazard of the product, the manufacturer had not breached its duty to warn of a danger in the repairman's product liability action.
John Loughan, an injured repairman, was struck by a piece of a wheel assembly that separated while he was making repairs. Loughan sought damages from the manufacturer Firestone for negligence and strict liability. The trial court directed verdict in favor of the manufacturer.
Is proof of habit admissible to prove that Loughan conformed to his routine practice?
The Court affirmed and determined that proof of habit through indirect evidence to prove that Loughan conformed to his routine practice was admissible when there was adequate evidence that the habit was long-standing and not a series of unrelated remote instances. The Court determined that habit evidence was weighed and considered by the trier of fact as any other direct or circumstantial evidence. The Court determined that the trial court properly granted directed verdict on the duty to warn under prevailing Florida law because there was no duty to warn a person who had knowledge of the potential danger. The Court also determined that appellant had been offered adequate opportunity to amend his pleadings to assert additional causes but had failed to take advantage. The Court finally determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding costs.