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Renfro Hosiery Mills v. National Cash Register

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Citation Edit

Renfro Hosiery Mills Co. v. National Cash Register Co., 552 F.2d 1061 (4th Cir. 1977) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Renfro entered into a contract with National Cash Register ("NCR") for the rental of certain computer equipment to maintain Renfro's accounting and inventory records. After a few months, various mechanical problems occurred and Renfro asked NCR to remove the computers.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

Upon removal, NCR sued Renfro for early termination, and Renfro counterclaimed for damages based on a breach of express and implied warranties. The jury found for NCR, but awarded no damages. No findings were made with respect to the counterclaim.

Renfro claimed that evidence of NCR's own reliability tests of other, similar computers should have been admitted to prove the breach of implied warranty of fitness. The trial judge denied the admission on two grounds:

1. the test conditions were not substantially similar, and any inference of unreliability that could be drawn would be too remote, and
2. the evidence was hearsay.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

The Fourth Circuit noted that a pretrial stipulation between the parties provided that hearsay objections to any computer-generated evidence would be waived. Thus, it was error to exclude the evidence because it was hearsay. However, it was harmless error, since incompetence and remoteness were proper grounds for exclusion.

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