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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
"We were thrilled to receive Clay's invitation," says SuPrise. "Though the BMP program has conducted many surveys of government enterprises [including all services, operational fleet units, and support activities at various echelons] this was our first survey of a PMO."
On the attempted theft of lampposts Surprise, suprise, the cast iron one outside my house was changed some weeks ago, but was left in-situ after the new one was working.
In carving out a seven-point lead at the top of the table, they remain unbeaten on the road, conceding five goals in their eight matches and it is no suprise to see them at just 8-13 to come out on top today.
THE new series of Rab C Nesbitt had a suprise guest - Susan Boyle.
MARTIN O'NEILL has lined up a suprise move for unsung Celtic hero Lee Naylor.
It is an exhibition that will bring back memories for many and perhaps suprise others.
If the TV was turned off now and again, children would soon find it necessary to fill their time and the joy of reading might be a welcome suprise; and parents might find it's fun to sit there and help
But - suprise, suprise - the deadline to do so came and went last Wednesday without a cheep from the man who had told the world how wronged he had been.
This comes as no suprise to me though as the whole country is Premiership mad.
More than 120,000 advance tickets were sold for the show and with 300 companies exhibiting more than 700 vehicles it is no suprise the event proved such an crowd-puller.
6,402, 731; Jody Suprise, Paul Serbiak and Timothy Blenke, assignors to KimberlyClark Corporation, Neenah, WI.
With scenes like those on Wednesday it's no suprise the local game is dying.