Big Mack Trucking Co., Inc. v. Dickerson 497 S.W.2d 283 (1973)
Dickerson and Leday worked for Big Mack. Leday's truck rolled
into Dickerson, killing him. Dickerson's heirs sued Big Mack for wrongful
Dickerson's heirs argued that Big Mack had failed to
properly maintain the brakes on the truck.
At trial, Dickerson's heir introduced statements made by
Leday to Stiles, the VP of Big Mack, and a policeman on the scene.
In both cases, Leday stated that his brakes weren't
For some reason, Leday did not testify at the trial.
Big Mack objected to the evidence on the grounds that it
Big Mack argued that admissions made by Leday
could only be used against Leday, and could not be admitted into evidence
against Big Mack.
The Trial Judge allowed the evidence to be admitted.
The Trial Judge looked to the common law, which allows admissions
to be used against an employer when made by an employee.
That's called an agent admission.
The Trial Court found for Dickerson and awarded $220k.
Big Mack appealed.
The Appellate Court affirmed. Big Mack appealed.
The Texas Supreme Court reversed.
The Texas Supreme Court found that admissions made
by an employee are only admissible against the employer when the
statements were authorized by the employer.
Big Mack did not tell Leday to make the admissions,
therefore they could not be held responsible for what he said. In essence,
Leday was not operating as an employee when he made the admissions,
and therefore they are not covered by the hearsay exception.
Leday was paid to drive a truck, not to make statements
on behalf of the company.
Of course, the admissions are still admissible in
the case against Leday.
This case was decided under the common law. FRE
801(d)(2)(D) would have changed the ruling here. Under FRE
801(d)(2)(D) as long as the statements concerned a matter within the
scope of their employment, it is admissible as an admission.