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Admissibility of Text Messages

In today’s world, we text.  We text a lot!  In many instances, we text more than we e-mail or talk on the phone to a specific person. At trial, no different than letters or e-mails, texts need to be authenticated for purposes of admissibility.  If you want to use text messages at trial, you need to authenticate those texts. In Walker v. Harley-Anderson, 45 Fla. L. Weekly D2116a (Fla. 4th DCA 2020), the sole issue in this appeal was the admissibility of text messages.  This case involved an injunction to prevent stalking.  The petitioner moving for the injunction claimed the respondent...

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Authentication of Photograph at Trial

A photograph needs to be authenticated at trial just like any other evidence.  A recent decision impacts what can happen if a photograph at trial is NOT properly authenticated. In City of Miami v. Kho, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2555c (Fla. 3d DCA 2019), a plaintiff slipped and fell on a sidewalk.  The plaintiff claimed she slipped in a difference in elevation of the sidewalk which constituted a dangerous and defective condition that the City of Miami had knowledge of.  The plaintiff could not prove the City had actual knowledge of the difference in elevation of the sidewalk at-issue, so she focused on...

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Hearsay within a Medical Record (Double Hearsay)

A medical record is admissible under the business record exception to the hearsay rule. Strong v. Underwood, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D1598c (Fla. 5thDCA 2019).   What about a party's statement within a medical record (double hearsay - hearsay within hearsay)?  Well, that hearsay statement may be admissible if another exception permits its admissibility.  Once such exception that could apply is an admission by a party opponent.  For instance, in Strong, a person driving a motorcycle collided with an SUV.  The motorcyclist sued the driver of the SUV.  An issue on appeal pertained a statement in a medical record by the motorcyclist’s...

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Affirming Summary Judgment when there are Competing Expert Affidavits

Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact and if the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” “Summary judgment is designed to test the sufficiency of the evidence to determine if there is sufficient evidence at issue to justify a trial or formal hearing on the issues raised in the pleadings.” Because summary judgment tests the sufficiency of the evidence to justify a trial, it “is proper only if, taking the evidence and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and assuming the jury would resolve...

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Then-Existing State of Mind Hearsay Exception

While this hearsay exception is predominantly applicable in criminal trials, it is still worth mentioning the then-existing state of mind hearsay exception.  This is a hearsay exception where hearsay is admissible, not to prove the truth of the matter asserted by a declarant (the person that made the out-of-court statement), but the declarant’s then-existing state of mind.  Naturally, the declarant’s state of mind has to be at-issue for this exception to come into play.   For example, in the criminal matter of Rodriguez v. State, 2018 WL 6331764 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018), a pregnant woman requested her friend go to her neighbor’s apartment and...

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Appealing Correct Measure of Damages

In an earlier article, I wrote how economic damages MUST be supported by substantial competent evidence.  In a recent case, Levy v. Ben-Shmuel, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D2229a (Fla. 3d DCA 2018), a plaintiff, after a bench trial, recovered a judgment against a defendant that included money damages associated with a claim for conversion.  During trial, and after the plaintiff’s case-in-chief, the defendant moved for an involuntary dismissal arguing the plaintiff failed to meet its burden in establishing the correct measure of damages at trial.  On appeal, the plaintiff ultimately conceded that he did not establish the correct measure of damages.  The issue...

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Admitting a Business Record Under the Hearsay Exception

If you have perused this blog, then you know if there is a new case discussing the business records exception to the hearsay rule, I am writing about it.   The reason being is that it comes up in many business disputes. Lately, there has been a trend where this business records exception comes up in mortgage foreclosure cases where the borrower argues that the lender failed to properly introduce key evidence (such as payment histories) under the business records exception. As a result, the evidence was inadmissible hearsay warranting a reversal of a foreclosure judgment. The recent opinion in Evans v....

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Impeachment as to Prior Crimes in Civil Trials

In a civil trial, I want to attack (impeach) the credibility of a testifying witness by bringing up a crime that witness committed. Can I do this? When it comes to impeaching the credibility of a witness based on crimes, Florida Statute s. 90.610 states in material part: (1) A party may attack the credibility of any witness, including an accused, by evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime if the crime was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of 1 year under the law under which the witness was convicted, or if the crime involved dishonesty or...

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Business Records Exception (to Hearsay Rule) When Business Takes Custody of Another’s Records

If you have looked through the articles on this blog before, you will know that the business records exception to the hearsay rule is a very important hearsay exception in business disputes (or any dispute involving business records!). The business records exception requires a proper foundation to be laid by a witness before the records are admitted into evidence to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the records. The proper foundation requires the witness to show that "(1) the record was made at or near the time of the event; (2) was made by or from information transmitted by...

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Improperly Admitting Hearsay can still be Harmless Error

I have discussed the hearsay rule (the evidentiary exclusionary rule and the numerous exceptions) ad nauseam and will continue to do so because it is such an important aspect of a civil trial. There will invariably be an objection under the hearsay rule during trial. The trial court will either sustain the objection or overrule the objection, perhaps under an exception to the hearsay rule. What if a trial court makes a mistake—it happens—and overrules a hearsay objection and admits hearsay evidence? As previously mentioned, an appellate court will review the admission of evidence under an abuse of discretion standard of...

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