Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dallas County v. Commercial Union Assurance Co. case brief

Dallas County v. Commercial Union Assurance Co. case brief summary
286 F.2d 388 (5th Cir. 1961)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant contested an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, which entered a judgment in favor of appellee in appellant's action seeking an order that appellee was required to cover damage sustained by appellant's insured building.

CASE FACTS
Appellant county government filed a complaint against appellee liability insurance carrier, alleging damage to appellant's insured building, for which appellee denied liability. Over appellant's objection, the trial court admitted a 56-year-old newspaper article offered by appellee. The jury returned a verdict for appellee.

DISCUSSION
  • The court affirmed, holding that in matters of local interest, when the fact in question was of such a public nature that it would be generally known throughout the community, and when the fact occurred so long ago that eyewitness testimony would probably be less trustworthy than a contemporary newspaper account, a federal court, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 43(a), could relax the exclusionary rules to the extent of admitting the newspaper account into evidence. 
  • The newspaper article was thus admissible because it was necessary, trustworthy, relevant, and material, and its admission was within the trial judge's discretion in holding the hearing within reasonable bounds.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed, holding that a newspaper article was admissible hearsay because the article was necessary, trustworthy, relevant, and material, and its admission was within the trial judge's discretion in holding the hearing within reasonable bounds.

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