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Baker v. Elcona Homes Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
588 F.2d 551 (1978)


A truck, driven by Joseph Slabach (defendant) in the course of his employment with Elcona Homes Corporation (Elcona) (defendant), collided with a Plymouth Valiant at the intersection of two state highways. Four of the Valiant’s occupants were killed in the accident and Cindy Baker (plaintiff) was seriously injured. Baker and the estates of the four deceased occupants (estates) (plaintiffs) brought a negligence action against Slabach and Elcona. The central factual dispute in the case was which vehicle had a green light; however there was no eye witness testimony because Baker could not recall the accident and Slabach testified that sun glare prevented him from seeing the traffic light. At trial, Sgt. John N. Hendrickson, an experienced state patrol officer who had arrived at the scene approximately six minutes after the accident occurred, testified for Slabach and Elcona. Hendrickson was qualified as an accident reconstruction expert and gave testimony describing the accident scene and a statement he took from Slabach at the hospital in which Slabach said he could not see the light, but Slabach gave a description of the Valiant’s speed and location when he first saw it. Hendrickson periodically refreshed his memory from the police report during his testimony. Hendrickson was not questioned about which vehicle he believed had the red light and failed to yield. The court admitted the report into evidence as a past recollection recorded under Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 803(5). Included in the report was Hendrickson’s record of Slabach’s statement, and Hendrickson’s notations indicating that the Valiant entered the intersection against a red light and failed to yield right-of-way. Judgment was entered in favor of Slabach and Elcona. Baker and the estates appealed, asserting, inter alia, that the district court erroneously admitted the police report into evidence.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Engel, J.)

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