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Railroad Commission v. Southern Pacific

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Citation Edit

Railroad Comm'n v. Southern Pacific Co., 468 S.W.2d 125 (Tex. Ct. App. 1971) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Southern Pacific sought to discontinue one of its agencies and transfer it to a site twelve miles away. The Commission denied the application, prompting Southern Pacific to bring suit.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The trial court reversed the Commission's order. At trial, Southern Pacific introduced as exhibits various computer-generated data covering shipments and revenues. The Commission objected, claiming that such evidence was hearsay.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

The appellate court first noted that business records are admissible, as exceptions to the hearsay rule, if:

1. the records are made in the usual course of business;
2. it is the normal business procedure for an employee with knowledge of such act to make the record; and,
3. the record was made at or near the time of the act.[1]

However, plaintiff's witness was not a qualified custodian of records, nor an employee having knowledge of the preparation of the records. In fact, no one who supervised the records, or who could testify as to their nature, was offered as a witness.

The court concluded that, even though the plaintiff produced the entire mass of underlying documents, it still had the burden of proving the accuracy of the computer abstracts; failing to do so, the evidence was hearsay, and thus inadmissible. The trial court's judgment was reversed.

References Edit

  1. These requirements have been codified in Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann., art. 3737e.

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