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Vincelette v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.
Montana Supreme Court
968 P.2d 275 (1998)
Darlene Vincelette (plaintiff) tripped while entering the Billings Sheraton Hotel (the hotel) (defendant) and was injured. Vincelette sued the hotel, claiming that she fell because the entryway carpet was either defective or negligently maintained. The hotel claimed that Vincelette fell because she was drunk. At trial, Vincelette called an engineer from the hotel as an adverse witness. On direct examination, the engineer said he had received a radio call that a woman had fallen near the entryway. The engineer then went to investigate the area but did not find any problems. The engineer could not remember the radio caller’s identity. On cross-examination, the engineer testified that the radio caller told him both that a woman had fallen by the entryway and that the woman was drunk. Vincelette moved to strike the statement that she was drunk as inadmissible hearsay, but the trial court denied her motion. The engineer then repeated the statement, and the hotel’s attorney repeated the statement again during closing arguments. The jury found for the hotel, and Vincelette’s claims were dismissed. Vincelette appealed, arguing that the radio caller’s statement that Vincelette was drunk was hearsay and should have been excluded. The hotel responded that the statement was not hearsay because it was offered only to explain why the engineer went to investigate.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Trieweiler, J.)
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