Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Industry, Inc., No. 93-2305

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore TORRUELLA, Chief Judge, BOUDIN and STAHL; BOUDIN
Citation43 F.3d 14
Docket NumberNo. 93-2305
Decision Date05 August 1994
Parties41 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 723 William CAMERON, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. OTTO BOCK ORTHOPEDIC INDUSTRY, INC., Defendant, Appellee. . Heard

Page 14

43 F.3d 14
41 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 723
William CAMERON, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
OTTO BOCK ORTHOPEDIC INDUSTRY, INC., Defendant, Appellee.
No. 93-2305.
United States Court of Appeals,
First Circuit.
Heard Aug. 5, 1994.
Decided Dec. 30, 1994.

Page 15

Albert E. Grady with whom Office of Albert E. Grady, Brockton, MA, was on brief, for appellants.

Ronald M. Davids with whom Michelle I. Schaffer and Campbell & Associates, P.C., Boston, MA, were on brief, for appellee.

Before TORRUELLA, Chief Judge, BOUDIN and STAHL, Circuit Judges.

BOUDIN, Circuit Judge.

In March of 1990, William Cameron, whose left leg had been amputated below the knee in 1965, was fitted with a prosthetic leg. The prosthesis was assembled by Mr. Cameron's prosthetist from components originally sold by various suppliers, including Otto Bock Orthopedic Industry, Inc. ("Otto Bock"). Specifically, the artificial limb featured an Otto Bock pylon, which is an aluminum tube that substitutes for the missing portion of the leg, and an Otto Bock clamp, which attaches the pylon to an artificial foot manufactured and sold by another company.

On May 28, 1991, Mr. Cameron fell when the Otto Bock pylon in his artificial leg broke into two pieces. Cameron alleged that he suffered a fractured pelvis and emotional damage as a result of the fall. Based on diversity jurisdiction, Mr. Cameron sued Otto Bock in federal court, charging negligence and breach of warranty. His wife, Kay Cameron, claimed loss of consortium.

The case was tried by a jury in 1993. Each side attributed the failure of the leg to a different cause. The Camerons claimed that the pylon and clamp had been negligently and defectively designed. Otto Bock's expert testified that the prosthesis broke because the screw that fastened the pylon to the clamp had been "overtorqued," or screwed too tightly, by the prosthetist, despite a warning against overtightening by Otto Bock. The Camerons said that the instructions should have been more detailed. The jury found in favor of Otto Bock and the Camerons appeal.

In this court, the Camerons' claims of error concern two rulings by the district court excluding evidence offered by them. The first ruling excluded several so-called "product failure reports" sent from prosthetists to Otto Bock. These excluded reports, all dated after Mr. Cameron's accident, detail the

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alleged failures of other prosthetic legs. The second group of excluded documents consisted of "Dear Customer" letters, sent by Otto Bock to prosthetists after the Cameron accident, that provided specific torque measurements to be used when screwing the pylon to the clamp.

1. The product failure reports in question are one-page standardized forms that a prosthetist must fill out in order to obtain a refund or credit for an Otto Bock product. The forms were designed by Otto Bock, but were completed by prosthetists who, in turn, typically obtained their information from conversations with their patients. The form required information about the nature of the problem, the age of the prosthesis, the demands placed on the prosthesis, and the patient's activity when the accident occurred; the form did not inquire directly about the cause of the problem.

The trial judge allowed the Camerons to introduce product failure reports that were dated before Mr. Cameron's accident, solely to show notice on the part of Otto Bock. The trial judge excluded several reports that were created after Mr. Cameron's accident and it is this exclusion that the Camerons claim to be error. There is some doubt whether the Camerons adequately raised and preserved this claim--Otto Bock says they did not. However, the district court did not rest its exclusion on this ground and, as we uphold the exclusion on the merits, we need not decide whether the Camerons waived the issue.

The district court held that the exclusion of the reports was proper because they were irrelevant, because they did not fall within any exception to the hearsay rule, and because they were more prejudicial than probative. We commonly say that we review all three determinations solely for an abuse of discretion. 1 This may be a mild overstatement since evidentiary rulings can sometimes contain buried rulings of law reviewable...

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23 practice notes
  • Mcgovern v. Brigham & Women's Hosp., Civil Action No. 07-10643-WGY.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • November 5, 2008
    ...that the Federal Rules of Evidence resolve the question in diversity proceedings in this Court. Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Indus., 43 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir.1994). Here, as discussed above, Dr. Engelbert's opinion failed the requirements of Rule III. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons,......
  • Scholz v. Goudreau, Nos. 17-1264
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • August 21, 2018
    ...legal issues within those evidentiary ruling de novo and findings of fact for clear error. Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Indus., Inc., 43 F.3d 14, 16 (1st Cir. 1994). In light of these standards, we find that the district court's conclusion that the video was a commercial promotional piec......
  • Velazquez v. Abbott Labs., Civil No. 11–1131 (FAB).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • October 30, 2012
    ...Carballo–Rodriguez v. Clark Equipment, Co., Inc., 147 F.Supp.2d 66, 77 (D.P.R.2001); see also Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Indus., Inc., 43 F.3d 14, 17 (1st Cir.1994); Raymond v. Raymond Corp., 938 F.2d 1518, 1523 (1st Cir.1991); Benitez–Allende v. Alcan Aluminio do Brasil, S.A., 857 F.2......
  • Blake v. Southcoast Health System, Inc., No. CIV.A. 00-10591-WGY.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • June 17, 2002
    ...of Massachusetts. See Fed.R.Evid. 101, 1101(b); Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Indus., 1994 WL 51630 at *1 (D.Mass. Jan. 7, 1994), aff'd, 43 F.3d 14 (1st Cir.1994); Fitzgerald v. Expressway Sewerage Constr. Inc., 177 F.3d 71, 74 (1st Cir.1999). Accordingly, this Court found the death certi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Mcgovern v. Brigham & Women's Hosp., Civil Action No. 07-10643-WGY.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • November 5, 2008
    ...that the Federal Rules of Evidence resolve the question in diversity proceedings in this Court. Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Indus., 43 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir.1994). Here, as discussed above, Dr. Engelbert's opinion failed the requirements of Rule III. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons,......
  • Scholz v. Goudreau, Nos. 17-1264
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • August 21, 2018
    ...legal issues within those evidentiary ruling de novo and findings of fact for clear error. Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Indus., Inc., 43 F.3d 14, 16 (1st Cir. 1994). In light of these standards, we find that the district court's conclusion that the video was a commercial promotional piec......
  • Velazquez v. Abbott Labs., Civil No. 11–1131 (FAB).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • October 30, 2012
    ...Carballo–Rodriguez v. Clark Equipment, Co., Inc., 147 F.Supp.2d 66, 77 (D.P.R.2001); see also Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Indus., Inc., 43 F.3d 14, 17 (1st Cir.1994); Raymond v. Raymond Corp., 938 F.2d 1518, 1523 (1st Cir.1991); Benitez–Allende v. Alcan Aluminio do Brasil, S.A., 857 F.2......
  • Blake v. Southcoast Health System, Inc., No. CIV.A. 00-10591-WGY.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • June 17, 2002
    ...of Massachusetts. See Fed.R.Evid. 101, 1101(b); Cameron v. Otto Bock Orthopedic Indus., 1994 WL 51630 at *1 (D.Mass. Jan. 7, 1994), aff'd, 43 F.3d 14 (1st Cir.1994); Fitzgerald v. Expressway Sewerage Constr. Inc., 177 F.3d 71, 74 (1st Cir.1999). Accordingly, this Court found the death certi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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