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Reed v. McCord - 160 N.Y. 330, 54 N.E. 737 (1899)

Rule:

In a civil action the admissions by a party of any fact material to the issue are always competent evidence against him, wherever, whenever or to whomsoever made.

Facts:

This action was to recover damages for personal injuries to the plaintiff's intestate that occasioned his death and was based upon the alleged negligence of the defendant. The plaintiff had a verdict, which was not directed by the court. From the judgment entered thereon, an appeal was taken to the Appellate Division where it was unanimously affirmed, as appears by the order of affirmance contained in the record. The Appellate Division subsequently made an order granting the defendant leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, and certified that in its opinion questions of law were involved which should be reviewed by that court. No definite questions of law were, however, stated or certified.

Issue:

(a) Was the evidence sufficient to justify the submission to the jury of the question of the defendant's negligence? (b) Were the statements made by the defendant at a coroner's inquest as to the cause of the accident that is the basis of the plaintiff's action proper?

Answer:

(a) No (b) Yes

Conclusion:

(a) On appeal, the court affirmed, holding that the New York constitution prohibited the court of appeals from reviewing the question whether there was any, or sufficient, evidence to sustain a decision or undirected verdict where there was a unanimous affirmance by the appellate division. The court opined that it had no authority to examine the first question presented and that the unanimous decision of the court below must be treated as final; (b) The court articulated that the statements of the individual of the circumstances and cause of the accident to the decedent made while he was a witness before the coroner were competent and properly received in the present action.

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