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Eighth Circuit Upholds Trial Court's Refusal to Admit Polygraph Refusal
EIGHTH CIRCUIT UPHOLDS TRIAL COURT'S REFUSAL TO ADMIT POLYGRAPH REFUSAL
In United Fire v. Historic Preservation, (PDF format) No. 00-2879 (Sept. 12, 2001), the Eighth Circuit reviewed the jury verdict for the insured in a fire case. The trust was formed in 1996 for purchase and renovation of a historic hotel. There were two fires after it was insured. The second caused substantial damage. The insurer declined to pay and filed an action against the insured. The jury returned a verdict against the insurer for the failure to pay.
One error alleged on appeal was that the district court erred by excluding evidence that the principal of the trust refused to take a lie detector test as requested by the Missouri state fire marshal. The insurer claimed that evidence should have been admissible to explain one reason why it refused to pay. The Court of Appeals disagree noting evidence that an insured refused to take a lie detector test is generally inadmissible because it has little probative value and can be highly prejudicial. Moreover, it was not offered for impeachment but as substantive evidence. That was not proper according to the court and the verdict for the insured was affirmed.
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