Pirreca v. Koltchine
A court can admit evidence concerning the plaintiff's religious affiliation, if the religious affiliation is pertinent to issues in the plaintiff's complaint. The plaintiff, Ralph Pirreca, sued the defendants, alleging that his phrenic nerve was injured as a result of medical malpractice during surgery on his left rotator cuff and shoulder. The plaintiff requested a motion in limine, to prevent the defendants from introducing any evidence about his religious beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness. The plaintiff maintained that the potential prejudice from the evidence is greater than the probative value. Courts may not permit gratuitous, irrelevant questions about religious beliefs and practices. The Superior Court found that the plaintiff's religious beliefs are relevant to the allegations in his complaint. The parties dispute whether the plaintiff informed the Fairfield Surgery Center that he would not accept blood transfusions. "[The plaintiff,]" wrote the court, "has failed to demonstrate any ground to exclude relevant questions which may implicate his religious affiliation; an affiliation which is relevant to issues in this case."