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ProveMyFloridaCase.com > Evidence (Page 3)

Witness Laying Foundation for Business Records Exception Need Not be the Person that Prepared the Business Records

If you have visited this blog before, then you know the importance I place on the business records exception to the hearsay rule in civil business disputes. (Check out this article too.) Lately, the business records exception to the hearsay rule is a hot topic in mortgage foreclosure cases. In yet another foreclosure case, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as Trustee, on Behalf of the Harborview Mortgage Loan Trust Mortgage Loan Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2007-1 v. Balkisson, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D308a (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), the trial court entered an involuntary dismissal in favor of the borrower and against the lender after sustaining...

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Excited Utterance Hearsay Exception

I have discussed that hearsay is inadmissible evidence. Again, hearsay “is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Fla.Stat. 90.801(1)(c). While hearsay is inadmissible, there are exceptions that allow hearsay to be admissible at trial. One hearsay exception is known as an “excited utterance.” Typically, this hearsay exception is more applicable in criminal trials than civil trials. An excited utterance is a “statement or excited utterance relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of...

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Hearsay can Only be Admitted for Another Purpose if Such Purpose is a Material Issue

Sometimes, a party will try to introduce hearsay by arguing that that the document/testimony is not being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted (hearsay), but instead, is being offered for another purpose. This is an avenue to admit evidence that would otherwise be excluded under the hearsay exclusion.  This was the situation in the employment litigation case, Mootry v. Bethune-Cookman University, Inc., 41 Fla. L. Weekly D146a (Fla. 5th DCA 2015). In this case, the University terminated a tenured professor for cause and the professor sued. At trial, the University offered into evidence a report prepared by an...

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Summary Judgment Must be Based on Admissible Evidence

  A party moving for summary judgment must rely on admissible evidence in the record. Arlen Realty, Inc. v. Penn Mut. Life Ins. Co., 386 So.2d 886 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980). Parties oftentimes submit an affidavit in support of a motion for summary judgment in order to get certain testimony or documentary evidence into the record. When a party submits an affidavit to get a document into the record, the party still needs to authenticate the document and lay its foundation in the affidavit. See Alavi v. Garcia, 140 So.3d 1141 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) (party required to lay foundation for...

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How the Defense of Set-Off Applies

Set-off is a popular topic or defense raised in civil disputes. In contract actions, set-off must be raised as an affirmative defense and proven at trial (and determined by the trier of fact) or else the defendant waives the right to assert set-off. See Felgenhauer v. Bonds, 891 So.2d 1043, 1045 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004). What about tort actions such as negligence actions in disputes involving personal injury or property damage? For instance, say a plaintiff sues three defendants in negligence for the same damage. Prior to trial, the plaintiff settled with two of the defendants for a total of $100,000 and...

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Witness Laying the Foundation for the Admission of Business Records

More on the business records exception to the hearsay rule and the importance of laying the proper foundation to introduce business records under this exception. This is a must-know hearsay exception to any business-related dispute; and, it is imperative to understand the required testimony of the witness utilized to lay the foundation for the business records exception. In Sanchez v. Suntrust Bank, 4D14-2457 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015) – yes, a mortgage foreclosure case—the lender introduced a screenshot of its record keeping system, the payment history with the borrower, default letters, and a payoff calculation. The lender introduced this documentation through the...

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Parol Evidence Rule — A Substantive Rule of Law

The parol evidence rule is not an evidentiary rule, but a substantive rule of law. Madsen, Sapp, Mena, Rodriguez & Co., P.A. v. Palm Beach Holdings, Inc., 899 So.2d 435, 436 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005). It is an important substantive rule of law when it comes to cases that involve the rights, liabilities, and remedies of parties pursuant to a written agreement. The parol evidence rule precludes the admissibility of extrinsic “verbal agreements [evidence] between the parties to a written contract which are made before or at the time of execution of the contract.” Pavolini v. Williams, 915 So.2d 251, 254...

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Best Evidence Rule

Florida Statutes s. 90.952, 90.953 and 90.954 codify what is called the “best evidence rule.” “The best evidence rule requires that if original evidence is available, then no evidence should be received which is merely substitutionary in nature….The best evidence rule is applicable only to exclude evidence where the contents of a writing is at issue.” State v. Eubanks, 609 Do.2d 107, 109 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992); These statutes provide: 90.952 Except as otherwise provided by statute, an original writing, recording, or photograph is required in order to prove the contents of the writing, recording, or photograph. 90.953 A duplicate is admissible to the same extent...

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Recipient of Trial Court’s Error Needs to Prove Harmless Error

I previously discussed that the “no reasonable possibility test” is the harmless error test in civil trials. This means that even if the trial judge committed an error, the recipient of the error (generally the appellee) has to prove that the error was harmless in that there was no reasonable possibility that the error contributed to the verdict (against the appellant). Here is a case where the trial court committed error but the appellee that prevailed at trial was unable to establish that the error was harmless. Thus, the error committed by the trial court was deemed to be reversible error entitling...

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State of Mind Hearsay Exception

Sometimes hearsay statements are introduced at trial not to show the truth of the matter asserted by the out-of-court statement, but to prove a certain state of mind of the person that heard the out-of-court statement. In this situation, the out-of-court statement would be admissible and not considered hearsay. Florida Statute 90.803(3)(a) provides the following hearsay exception: (a) A statement of the declarant's then-existing state of mind, emotion, or physical sensation, including a statement of intent, plan, motive, design, mental feeling, pain, or bodily health, [is an exception to hearsay] when such evidence is offered to: Prove the declarant's state of mind,...

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