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July 2010

Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Rule of Evidence 407 Limitations

Johnson v. Arizona Department of Transportation, Ariz. CV-09-0267-PR (2010)

In Johnson v. Arizona Department of Transportation, Ariz. CV-09-0267-PR (2010), the Arizona Supreme Court held the limitation in Arizona Rule of Evidence 407, which precludes introduction of "subsequent remedial measures," applies whether the defendant was aware of the dangerous condition or not prior to taking remedial action. It also held that the exception "for another purpose" is inapplicable to allow a party to introduce subsequent remedial measures to controvert a defendant's full denial of negligence or culpability.

In Johnson, a decedent's family brought a wrongful death suit against the Arizona State Department of Transportation ("ADOT") for negligent design and maintenance after the decedent rear-ended a mining truck on a highway soon after the truck entered the roadway. The decedent's family sought to introduce evidence that ADOT installed cautionary signage after the event. The family argued the signage was not a remedial measure as contemplated by Rule 407 because ADOT was unaware of the accident at the time the signage was installed and therefore it could not be "remedial." The family further argued that even if considered "remedial," the evidence was admissible within the rule exception "for another purpose."

The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the trial and appellate courts, finding inconsequential the defendant's level of knowledge in enacting remedial measures, holding there is no requirement the defendant have knowledge of negligence or culpable conduct. It further held the evidence inadmissible as impeachment evidence under the "for another purpose" exception to the rule to controvert ADOT's full denial of negligence. It held that remedial measures can be introduced for impeachment under the "for another purpose" exception only in circumstances where the defendant asserts an exaggerated position that provides an unfair advantage if uncontested.

Product & General Liability


Product & General Liability