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Trooper’s testimony was erroneously admitted, even though it was based on hearsay and was speculative, as the trooper did not actually investigate the crash firsthand.

January 19, 2018
Heartland Express, Inc. v. Farber, 2017 Fla. App 13616 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017)

The plaintiff brought a negligence action against the driver of a tractor trailer who struck a van in which the plaintiff was a passenger. During the trial, a state trooper testified about his opinions regarding the positioning of the vehicles prior to the accident. The trooper went to the scene to assist another trooper who was conducting the investigation. The trooper testified that he did not actually investigate the accident and that he only spoke with occupants of the van that was struck. The trooper contradicted the investigating trooper’s opinions about the position of the impact of the vehicles. The trial court granted a new trial court, ruling that the trooper’s testimony was based primarily upon hearsay and speculation and should have been ruled inadmissible. However, the Appellate Court held that such testimony did not substantially prejudice the plaintiff and entitle the plaintiff to a new trial on the issues of punitive damages.

 

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2018

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