Evidence-Hearsay-Admissbility of Accident Reports Under the Federal Business Records Act

The United States, as assignee of a civilian seaman’s claim, brought an action against the defendant for injuries received when the seaman slipped on a walkway which the defendant had contracted to maintain in good repair. At the trial plaintiff sought to introduce into evidence a report compiled by the seaman’s superior, such report being required to accompany the seaman’s claim for compensation from the Government. Admission of the report under the Federal Business Records Act was denied, and the Government’s case was thereby materially weakened. Judgment was entered on a jury verdict for the defendant. On appeal, held, reversed and remanded for a new trial. Two of the judges, employing different rationales, concluded that the report was admissible, while the third, though concurring in the decision to grant a new trial, disagreed with the determination as to the admissibility of the report. United States v. New York Foreign Trade Zone Operators, Inc., 304 F.2d 792 (2d Cir. 1962).