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Hearsay is an out-of-court statement that is offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted, Fed. R. Evid. 801(c), and, generally, is inadmissible. Fed. R. Evid. 802.
Plaintiff doctor brought the present diversity action, alleging that the individual had defamed him by informing a third party that the doctor was a "bad doctor" who had "paralyzed four patients." Both the individual and the third party denied that the individual made these statements. The sole evidence offered by the doctor to prove that these statements were made was his own testimony that the third party had said to him, "the individual is downstairs right now and just told me that you paralyzed four patients." The district court ruled that the doctor’s testimony about what the third party said to him was inadmissible hearsay and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Plaintiff doctor appealed.
Was the plaintiff doctor’s testimony about what the third party said to him inadmissible as hearsay evidence?
The instant court found that the district court properly excluded such evidence as inadmissible hearsay. The instant court reasoned that the doctor failed to present testimony from any individual who personally heard the individual make the defamatory statements. The instant court also found that neither the present sense impression exception to the general rule barring hearsay, Fed. R. Evid. 803(1), nor the unavailable witness exception, Fed. R. Evid. 804(a)(3), were applicable. The instant court reasoned in part that the third party was not an unavailable witness: he testified that the individual did not tell him that the doctor "had paralyzed patients" or was a "bad doctor."