Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Johnson v. Lutz case brief

Johnson v. Lutz case brief summary
170 N.E. 517 (N.Y. 1930)

Defendant truck drivers appealed a judgment from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department (New York), which affirmed the trial court's judgment excluding a policeman's report and testimony in plaintiff estate's wrongful death action arising out of a vehicle collision.

An accident occurred in which a motorcyclist was killed when he collided with defendants' truck. Litigation ensued where plaintiff's estate sued defendants for the loss of their family member. During the subsequent trial, defendants offered a policeman's memo into evidence. The trial court denied the request as inadmissible, which the appellate court affirmed. Defendants sought further judicial review.


  • On appeal, the court upheld the judgment on the grounds that the policeman's report had not been made in the regular course of business, as required under N.Y. Civ. Prac. Act § 374-a. 
  • Specifically, defendants' offered introduction of a memo concerning the accident was based on hearsay statements of third persons at the scene of the accident. 
  • Accordingly, it was properly excluded as hearsay evidence.

The court affirmed the appellate court, holding that the evidence concerning a policeman's memo was properly excluded as hearsay evidence when it was not produced in the ordinary course of business.

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