Sunday, December 22, 2013

Simon v. Kennebunkport case brief

Simon v. Kennebunkport case brief summary
417 A.2d 982 (Me. 1980)

Plaintiff elderly woman appealed the judgment of the Superior Court of York County (Maine), which found in favor of defendant town in the woman's action alleging that she sustained a personal injury that was proximately caused by a defect in the design or construction of the town's sidewalk. The woman argued that evidence establishing the defective condition was improperly excluded.

The elderly woman was walking on a sidewalk in the town when she stumbled and fell, sustaining a broken hip. The woman filed a complaint against the town, and a jury determined by special verdict that no defect in the sidewalk had proximately caused the woman to fall, so judgment was entered for the town. The woman appealed, and the court vacated the judgment, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in rejecting the woman's other accident evidence.


  • The evidence was relevant under Me. R. Evid. 401, so it was admissible under Me. R. Evid. 402, and it should not have been excluded under Me. R. Evid. 403. 
  • Before trial, the town was well aware that in the two years prior to the accident as many as 100 persons stumbled under similar circumstances in the same location. 
  • The evidence satisfied the substantial-similarity foundational requirement and was highly probative on the material issue whether the sidewalk was in a defective condition at the time of the woman's fall. 
  • There would have been no unfair surprise by its admission, and it would not have consumed an inordinate amount of time or tended to confuse or excite the jury.
In the woman's damages action against the town for her personal injury, the court sustained the woman's appeal, vacated the judgment in favor of the town, and remanded to the superior court.

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