California's "New Approach" on Evidence

September 06, 2018

A Law360 op-ed from a Drinker Biddle & Reath attorney documents the “step forward into the real world” for California state courts after a recent decision on product liability issues.

Alan Lazarus examined the Kim v. Toyota Motor Corp. decision from the California Supreme Court, which was released on August 27. In the decision, the Court broke with previous precedent that barred defendants from using “evidence of their compliance with industry custom and practice to prove their design was not defective.” Now, though, Lazarus says that evidence is “no longer categorically inadmissible, but neither is it categorically admissible.” It depends on the nature of the evidence and why it is being offered.

However, Lazarus says the Court “stopped short of giving any concrete guidance on when the evidence would not be admissible.” Still, he said it is a “step forward” to allow juries to consider this type of evidence.