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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

06/20/14 MANATA VS. PEREIRA, ET AL. A-0506-12T4

We reverse the liability finding in this verbal threshold case, because plaintiff's counsel improperly cross-examined defendant. Defendant-driver and plaintiff- pedestrian disputed whether plaintiff was walking in the cross-walk, or the middle of the block, when she was struck. Police did not investigate, but prepared a report after-the-fact. It included only plaintiff's version, although defendant said he spoke to the police, too. Without offering the report into evidence, plaintiff's counsel repeatedly used it in cross-examination and closing, to impeach defendant with his alleged omission of the version of events that he later asserted at trial. It was unclear whether the report would have been admissible under N.J.R.E. 803(c)(6), (7), (8) or (10), as it did not reflect any statement from defendant, and it apparently was prepared contrary to N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission report preparation guidelines. Cross-examination was improper since plaintiff's counsel conveyed through his questioning the substance of the unadmitted report, as evidence of defendant's alleged omission.