Cumulative Evidence, Expert Witnesses

A trial court has substantial discretion regarding what evidence is admissible at a trial. Stated differently, “[b]alancing the effect and value of evidence is within the trial court’s sound discretion.” State v. Mathews, 33 S.W.3d 658, 661 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000). This extends to “cumulative evidence.” Rodriguez v. Suzuki Motor Corp., 996 S.W.2d 47, 72 (Mo. 1999). Cumulative evidence is evidence that reiterates the same point. Saint Louis University v. Geary, 321 S.W.3d 282, 292 (Mo. 2009).

But there is a nuance. A trial court “does not have discretion to reject evidence as cumulative when it goes to the very root of the matter in controversy or relates to the main issue, the decision of which turns on the weight of the evidence.” Shallow v. Follwell, 554 S.W.3d 878, 883-84 (Mo. 2018). This can particularly complex with expert testimony. “Excessive expert witnesses can create the risk the trier of fact will resolve differences in expert witness opinions by the number of experts called instead of giving due consideration to the quality and credibility of each expert opinion.” Id. at 885.

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