Sunday, December 22, 2013

Turbyfill v. International Harvester Co. case brief

Turbyfill v. International Harvester Co. case brief summary
486 F.Supp. 232 (E.D. Mich. 1980)

Plaintiff motioned for new trial in personal injury action, alleging errors in the conduct of the previous trial.

Plaintiff sued defendant for burns sustained in a fire where plaintiff poured gas into a carburetor of a truck he was contemplating purchasing. The trial court, applying Missouri law, entered judgment for defendant, finding plaintiff had failed to establish negligence on the part of defendant and that plaintiff had been contributorily negligent as well.


  • The court denied plaintiff's motion for a new trial, holding that the prior determinations as to choice of law and use of an advisory jury were not erroneous. 
  • The court further held that admission of a deceased witness's handwritten unsworn statement, written shortly after the accident, was properly admitted under an exception to hearsay embodied in Fed. R. Evid. 804(b)(5), since it had circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness and was more probative than other evidence which defendant could reasonably have obtained.

Motion for new trial denied because prior court did not err in adopting Missouri law where injury occurred in that state, and had properly admitted handwritten statement of deceased witness under Fed. R. Evid. 804(b)(5) exception to hearsay.

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