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Robbins v. Whelan

653 F.2d 47 (1981)

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Robbins v. Whelan

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

653 F.2d 47 (1981)

Facts

Robert Whelan (defendant) ran into a car in which Larry Robbins (plaintiff) was a passenger. Robbins’s car was pulling onto the highway from a rest area. Robbins sued Whelan, claiming that Whelan’s speed caused the accident. At trial, Whelan claimed that he was not speeding. A state trooper testified that he observed 160 feet of skid marks leading to the scene of the accident. Robbins attempted to introduce a Department of Transportation National Highway Safety Bureau report (the report) into evidence. The report had performance metrics for Whelan’s type of car, including braking time at certain speeds. Robbins sought to introduce the report in combination with the state trooper’s testimony to show that, given Whelan’s braking time, Whelan must have been speeding. Robbins, however, did not make that purpose as clear as it could have been for the trial judge. Whelan objected to the report on the ground that it was not relevant. The district court sustained the objection. The jury found in Whelan’s favor. Robbins appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coffin, C.J.)

Dissent (Campbell, J.)

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