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Difference in Safety Features from Store to Store Not Evidence of Negligence
Description In a case where child was killed by driver in store parking lot , the judge properly excluded evidence that a grocery store chain did not install the same traffic safety features at every store,. General discussion of traffic safety was relevant, but custom and usage evidence is disfavored.
Topic Torts
Key Words Custom and Usage; Evidence; Wrongful Death
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Parents took groceries to their car and told their three-year old to wait for them in front of the store. Child walked out into parking lot and was killed by another car. Parents sued grocery store for inadequate safety features, such as speed bumps, in the parking lot. Trial judge did not allow evidence to be presented that other stores owned by the same company had speed bumps and other features not present at this store. Judge allowed discussion of traffic management in general. Jury held for defendant; plaintiffs appealed, contesting decision of judge to limit evidence about specific safety features at other stores.
Decision Affirmed. While relevant, "custom and usage evidence is disfavored and recognized as dangerous. The danger is that the jury will define negligence simply by a departure from custom. For custom and usage evidence to be admissible, its relevancy and probative value must be clearly shown and must outweigh its prejudicial effect." The judge properly allowed discussion of traffic safety.
Citation Jones v. Jitney Jungle Stores of America, Inc., 1998 WL 800119 (Slip Copy, Sup. Ct., Miss.)
730 So.2d 555 (Sup. Ct., Miss., 1999)

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