Reed v. McCord
160 N.Y. 330, 54 N.E. 737 (1899)
- Reed was killed in an industrial accident, his estate sued
McCord for wrongful death.
- McCord was in charge of the work site.
- At an inquest by the coroner, McCord admitted the details
of the accident.
- Basically, McCord admitted that the accident occurred
because a safety device was not properly positioned.
- At trial, Reed had the stenographer from the coroner's
inquest testify to the things McCord admitted to.
- McCord objected to the introduction of this evidence on
the grounds that it was hearsay.
- McCord wasn't personally present for the accident. His
testimony to the coroner was simply what he had heard from other people.
- McCord argued that since he'd only heard what happened
from someone else, it was clearly hearsay.
- The Trial Judge allowed the evidence to be admitted.
- McCord was found negligent in the death of Reed. McCord
- The Appellate Court affirmed.
- The Appellate Court agreed that if McCord had stated
that, "he had heard the safety device was not properly
positioned," then that would be hearsay.
- However, McCord stated a fact, not that he'd heard
something that other people believe to be a fact. That's an admission.
- The Appellate Court found that in a civil action the admissions
by a party of any fact material to the issue are always competent
evidence against him.
- The idea is that no party would be dumb enough to admit
anything against themselves that they don't believe to be true.
- The Appellate Court found that McCord could argue that
his statements to the coroner shouldn't be given any weight by the jury,
but they were still admissible.
- The basic rule is that admissions are admissible,
even if they are statements of opinion and even if the declarant lacks
- Btw, this case predated the FRE and was decided
under the common law.
- Under FRE 801(d)(2), admissions made by a
party-opponent are not considered hearsay.