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Starr v. Morsette - 236 N.W.2d 183 (N.D. 1975)

Rule:

Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(B) provides that a statement is not hearsay if it is offered against a party and is a statement of which he has manifested his adoption or belief in its truth. Such manifestation may be shown by failure to deny where denial is called for. But the trial court must satisfy itself that the facts are such that the person who is asserted to have adopted the admission actually heard and understood the statement and had an opportunity and the ability to reply. These are preliminary questions within the discretion of the trial court.

Facts:

The passenger brought the personal injury action against appellants for injuries she sustained in a single-car automobile accident. The wife was driving at the time of the accident, but the wife blamed the husband for causing the accident in certain out-of-court statements. The district court entered a judgment in favor of the passenger. The district court also denied appellants' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial

Issue:

Whether admissions of a party came in as substantive evidence of the facts admitted, and that no foundation or predicate, by examining the party himself, such as would be required for impeaching evidence, were prerequisite for proof of admissions. 

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

On review, the court affirmed. The court first noted that the record of the case was incomplete. But from the record presented, the court found that the district court had properly admitted those admissions of appellants as to the cause of the accident. The court noted that admissions of a party came in as substantive evidence of the facts admitted, and that no foundation or predicate, by examining the party himself, such as would be required for impeaching evidence, were prerequisite for proof of admissions. The court held that the trial court had not abused its discretion in the admission of evidence.

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