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Maryland law is instructive. Prior to the adoption of Maryland Rule 5-407, Maryland followed the common law with respect to the admissibility of subsequent remedial measures. The court first adopted that law principally as articulated by the Supreme Court in Columbia v. Hawthorne, 144 U.S. 202, 12 S. Ct. 591, 36 L. Ed. 405 (1892) -- a pre-workers' compensation era negligence action by an employee against his employer for injuries sustained when a pulley fell on him. The employer, who lost in a territorial trial court, complained about the allowance of evidence regarding measures undertaken after the accident to make the pulley more secure. 


The Supreme Court held that the evidence was inadmissible and reversed. The Court regarded it as 'settled' that 'the evidence is incompetent, because the taking of such precautions against the future is not to be construed as an admission of responsibility for the past, has no legitimate tendency to prove that the defendant had been negligent before the accident happened, and is calculated to distract the minds of the jury from the real issue, and to create a prejudice against the defendant.' Columbia, 144 U.S. at 207, 12 S. Ct. at ...

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