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B & K Rentals and Sales Co. v. Universal Leaf Tobacco Co.

596 A.2d 640 (1991)

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B & K Rentals and Sales Co. v. Universal Leaf Tobacco Co.

Maryland Court of Appeals

596 A.2d 640 (1991)

Facts

B & K Rentals and Sales Company, Inc. (B & K) (plaintiff) rented warehouse space from Universal Leaf Tobacco Company (Universal) (defendant) to store equipment. A warehouse fire killed a Universal employee, Walter Johnson, and destroyed most of B & K’s equipment. Only one other Universal employee, Leonard Grimes, was in the warehouse at the time of the fire. Grimes told a fire investigator what had happened right before the fire, including that Johnson had been using an acetylene torch. B & K sued Universal for negligence. At trial, a different fire investigator testified that Johnson’s torch use had caused the fire. The investigator also testified that he had relied heavily on the reported statements from Grimes to reach this conclusion. The jury awarded B & K approximately $125,000. Universal moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing that the fire investigator’s testimony should have been excluded because it relied primarily on hearsay statements from Grimes. The trial court granted the motion and issued judgment for Universal. The court of special appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. B & K then appealed to the state’s highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Chasanow, J.)

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