Dangerous products often lead to the untimely demise of the people who use them. If a person dies due to the use of an unsafe product, the personal representative of the person’s estate will typically choose to pursue claims against the manufacturer of the product. In some instances, a defendant in a product liability case may attempt to introduce evidence that the deceased person engaged in unsavory behavior in order to reduce its liability. Evidence must be relevant to be admissible, however, and even relevant evidence may be precluded if it is unduly prejudicial, as demonstrated recently in a Florida court’s ruling. If you lost a loved one because of a dangerous product, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Florida product liability attorney to assess your options.
The Claims Against the Defendant and Evidence of Marital Strife
It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent smoked cigarettes that were manufactured and distributed by the defendant for approximately fifty years. He eventually contracted lung cancer, which ultimately caused his death. The plaintiff, who was married to the decedent, filed a lawsuit against the defendant manufacturer, alleging numerous claims, including negligence and strict liability.
It is alleged that, prior to trial, the plaintiff filed a motion to preclude the defendant from introducing evidence about the decedent’s infidelity and the couple’s marital problems, including their divorce and remarriage. The court granted the motion on the grounds that as the events happened long ago, they were irrelevant and were highly prejudicial because it painted the decedent in a poor light. A jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred precluding in testimony regarding the couple’s relationship.