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Olesen v. Henningsen

Supreme Court of Iowa
77 N.W.2d 40 (1956)


Facts

Richard Olesen (plaintiff) sued Lloyd Simonson and Kenneth Henningsen (defendants) for the damages Olesen incurred when his car hit the rear of Henningsen's wagon. At the time of the accident, the wagon did not exhibit a lighted tail lamp. The parties contested whether the accident took place at a time of day when Iowa law required such a lamp to be exhibited. After the accident, Olesen returned home and called the sheriff to report what had happened. The exact times of Olesen's return home and call to the sheriff had some probative value for establishing when the accident occurred. At trial, the defense evidence included a time-stamped telephone company record showing the time Olesen placed his call to the sheriff, which the defense claimed was early enough in the day that Iowa law would not have required a lighted tail lamp. A telephone company employee testified that in accordance with regular procedure, the two unidentified operators handling the transmission and reception of Olesen's call would have made their record of the call near the time the call was placed. Telephone company employees in charge of company records also verified the record at issue and testified that the record was made part of the company’s office records. Other evidence corroborated the time stamped on the record. The jury found for Henningsen and Simonson, and the trial court entered judgment accordingly. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Iowa, Olesen argued the telephone record was inadmissible hearsay.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Peterson, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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