- In a wrongful death action, both the deceased and the surviving spouse or personal representative are considered “parties” for all evidentiary purposes.
- Whenever the defendant offers statements of either the decedent or the spouse, such statements qualify as an opposing party’s statement and are not hearsay.
- A surviving spouse in a wrongful death action is not a party for purposes of establishing harm or injury.
- It is not relevant and may be prejudicial that a surviving spouse suffered as a result of the death
- Evidence that is admissible for other purposes is not rendered inadmissible because it provides evidence that a surviving spouse suffered.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Notes: The vast majority of, if not all of, college civil cases (and certainly this year’s) are “bifurcated” (separated) into liability and damages phases, and we only try the liability phase. In the liability phase, the goal is to establish whether or not the defendant owes the plaintiff money. “Damages” is another term for the harms the plaintiff suffered (examples of which include pain, suffering, and death). It’s also used to refer to the money paid in compensation for such harm. If there is a damages phase, then its been determined that the defendant does owe the plaintiff money and the question being decided is how much. This case law essentially beefs up the relevance and waste-of-time objections with respect to evidence that goes mostly towards the magnitude of damages. The plaintiff is allowed to introduce evidence to establish the existence of damages, but not to wax endlessly on about how great those damages were. In this case, for instance, while establishing that Lee Allen died would be relevant to establish damages, spending a great length of time establishing how painful his/her death likely was probably wouldn’t be. This case law can be brought out to support a relevance objection to such testimony.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
- The purpose of pleadings is to:
- Frame the issues for trial
- Permit the parties to frame their presentations accordingly
- It is inappropriate for a party:
- which has alleged or denied something in its complaint or answer
- to seek to prevent its adversary from presenting otherwise admissible evidence that relates to that thing
- by asserting that it is no longer interested in alleging or contesting that particular thing.
- Parties may choose which evidence they wish to present and which arguments they wish to emphasize at trial