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Surprise

party witness

An unexpected action, sudden confusion, or an unanticipated event.

As a ground for a new trial, surprise means the condition in which a party to a lawsuit is unexpectedly placed and that is detrimental to that party's case. The situation must be one that the party could not reasonably have anticipated and that could not be guarded against or prevented.

When a party is taken by surprise by the testimony of his or her own witness, the party may be permitted to discredit the witness by showing that the witness made prior contradictory or inconsistent statements.

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