Brief Fact Summary. Two men that both worked for the defendant trucking company, Big Mack Trucking Co. (the “defendant”), stopped at a truck stop. One man left his truck unattended, and it rolled forward crushing the other man between the two trucks. The deceased’s family sued for damages.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. In order for hearsay statements to be allowed into evidence, they must fall under some exception to the hearsay rule. For an exception to apply requiring that the declarant be unavailable to testify, sufficient evidence of that unavailability must appear on the record.
An agent's hearsay statements should be received against the principal as vicarious admissions only when the trial judge finds, as a preliminary fact, that the statements were authorized.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether any of the statements made by witnesses regarding statements that Leday had made to them were admissible against the defendant trucking company under an exception to the hearsay rule?
Whether the statements that Leday made to his Superior at the defendant trucking company qualified as admissions of a party?
Whether Leday’s statements to the investigating officer qualified as vicarious admissions?
Whether Leday’s statements to the investigating officer qualified as spontaneous admissions?
Whether Leday’s statements qualify as a statement against interest?
Held. No. None of the statements fall under any exception to the hearsay rule, and are thus inadmissible against the defendant trucking company?
No. It was not proven that the statements were authorized by the employer of the declarant, and thus they are not admissions of a party.
No. A well advised employer would not likely authorize his employee to make incriminating statements against the employer to the officer investigating the incident.
No. There is insufficient evidence on the record to show that Leday was in any sort of emotionally distraught state
No. There is no evidence in the record that any effort was made to explain why Leday was not present to testify, and since his unavailability was not established, the statement against interest exception does not apply.
Discussion. Hearsay statements may be admissible if a good faith effort is made to show the unavailability of the declarant. Because that was not done in this case, statements that would have qualified as statements against interest if Leday had been unavailable, were not admissible in this case. There was not otherwise sufficient indicia of reliability of the statements to warrant allowing them in.