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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion: Expert Testimony

This is a follow-up post to one I did on June 25, 2010 on this same case; that opinion was from the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The day before yesterday, the Tennessee Supreme Court released its opinion in Holder v. Westgate Resorts Ltd., No. E2009-01312-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Dec. 12, 2011). The summary of the opinion is as follows:
During a trial of the plaintiffs’ premises liability claim, the trial court excluded as hearsay a portion of the testimony of the defendant’s expert. The expert would have testified that he consulted an authoritative source whose interpretation of the applicable building code was consistent with that of the testifying expert. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred because the expert’s testimony was admissible pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 703. The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court’s error was harmless, however, and affirmed the judgment. We hold that the Court of Appeals improperly applied an amended version of Rule 703 that was not in effect at the time of trial. We hold that the trial court properly excluded as hearsay portions of the proffered testimony of the testifying expert. We vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Here's a link to the opinion:

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