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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.


noun admiratio, amazement, astonishment, astoundment, bafflement, bewilderment, consternation, lack of warning, miratio, shock, unexpected event, unexxected occurrence, unforeseen contingency, unforeseen event, unforeseen occurrence, unsuspected event, unusual occurrence, wonder, wonderment
Associated concepts: take an opposing party by surprise
See also: bombshell, fortuitous, overwhelm, unforeseeable, unforeseen

SURPRISE. This term is frequently used in courts of equity and by writers on equity jurisprudence. It signifies the act by which a party who is entering into a contract is taken unawares, by which sudden confusion or perplexity is created, which renders it proper that a court of equity should relieve the party so surprised. 2 Bro. Ch. R. 150; 1 Story, Eq. Jur. Sec. 120, note. Mr. Jeremy, Eq. Jur. 366, seems to think that the word surprise is a technical expression, and nearly synonymous. with fraud. Page 383, note. It is sometimes, used in this sense when it is deemed presumptive of, or approaching to fraud. 1 Fonb. Eq. 123 3 Chan. Cas. 56, 74, 103, 114. Vide 6 Ves. R. 327, 338; 2 Bro. Ch. R. 826; 16 Ves. R. 81, 86, 87; 1 Cox, R. 340; 2 Harr. Dig. 92.
     2. In practice, by surprise is understood that situation in which a party is placed, without any default of his own, which will be, injurious to his interest. 8 N. AS. 407. The courts always do everything in their power to relieve a party from the effects of a surprise, when he has been diligent in endeavouring to avoid it. 1 Clarke's R. 162; 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 3285.

References in periodicals archive ?
The Jaguar XJ has received the 'Most Surprisingly Economical' award, at the Honest John Awards.
Summary: US President Barack Obama on Friday was surprisingly awarded 2009's Nobel Peace Prize.
Her surprisingly time-worn, gruff voice is pleasantly similar to that of Kirsty MacColl and sounded incredible on songs such as hit Mr Rock And Roll, Poison Prince and Run.
According to the index, Europe is also surprisingly less carbon efficient than it was in 1961.
Edited by philosophy instructor Robert Arp, South Park and Philosophy is a collection of surprisingly scholarly essays by diverse authors applying intermediate to advanced philosophical scrutiny to the crudely humorous, irreverently satirical, often vulgar yet wildly popular animated series "South Park".
By November 13, however, when Time magazine featured Richard Dawkins, the outspoken Oxford zoologist also known as "Darwin's Rottweiler" in a surprisingly frank debate targeting the very existence of gods, 2006 had proven itself an exceptionally encouraging year.
And one thing that becomes startlingly apparent in a surprisingly short time is how awkward and uncoordinated American vehicles can be under even the most benign circumstances.
Surprisingly, some of the best food can be found in strip malls.
Goodwin's device of multiple biography provides that extra richness to the other big events of the Lincoln presidency: When Lincoln asks the cabinet's appraisal of the Emancipation Proclamation, the varied responses make a stronger impression than they might in a straight Lincoln biography: Bates the conservative surprisingly positive; Chase the radical surprisingly reserved; Seward, Chases ideological opponent, surprisingly close to him on this issue.
This latter point is the object of many conspiracy theories but surprisingly little mainstream scrutiny.
Not surprisingly, search consultants unanimously agree that board members are risk averse.
But even Santorum's parenting advice is surprisingly lame.