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In a negligence action, evidence of other similar accidents or occurrences may be relevant circumstantially to show a defective or dangerous condition, notice thereof or causation on the occasion in question. The absence of other accidents or occurrences may also be probative on these issues. See generally, C. McCormick, Handbook of the Law of Evidence § 200 (2d ed. E. Cleary 1972). Nevertheless, Maine courts, with only rare exceptions, traditionally excluded such evidence on the ground that it ''tends to draw away the minds of the jury from the point in issue [(negligence of the defendant at the time and place of the accident)], and to excite prejudice, and mislead them; and, moreover, the adverse party, having no notice of such a course of evidence, is not prepared to rebut it.'' Parker v. Portland Publishing Co., 69 Me. 173, 174 (1879), quoting 1 S. Greenleaf, Evidence § 52 (13th ed. J. May rev. 1876); e.g., Torrey v. Congress Square Hotel Co., 145 Me. 234, 240-42, 75 A.2d 451, 456-57 (1950); Stodder v. Coca-Cola Bottling Plants, Inc., 142 Me. 139, 144, 48 A.2d 622, 625 (1946); Johnson v. Maine Central Railroad, 141 Me. 38, 45-46, 38 A.2d 884, ...

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