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Harrison v. Sears, Roebuck and Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
981 F.2d 25 (1st Cir. 1992)


Facts

Benjamin Harrison (plaintiff) was using a carpentry jointer sold by Sears, Roebuck and Company (Sears) (defendant) when his fingers were injured, resulting in partial amputation. Harrison brought a personal-injury suit against Sears, alleging negligence and breach of warranty. At his deposition, Harrison testified that his hand had slipped off the jointer and into an opening where the jointer’s cutter blades were exposed. Sears’s expert witness, Jack Hyde, testified that the injury could not have happened as Harrison described. Harrison sought to cross-examine Hyde on changes that Sears had made to the design of the jointer after Harrison’s injury. These changes removed any openings in the jointer that would expose the cutter blades. The district court sustained Sears’s objection to this cross-examination based on Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) 407 and 403. The jury found in favor of Sears. Harrison appealed, arguing that his cross-examination of Hyde should have been admissible for impeachment purposes.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Brody, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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