The Second Department determined the plaintiff’s admission, contained in the hospital records, that he was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision was properly admitted at trial. Although the statement was not relevant to diagnosis or treatment, it was admissible because it contradicted plaintiff’s trial testimony (plaintiff testified he was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident). However, Supreme Court should not have submitted the seat belt defense to the jury because there was no foundational testimony explaining precisely how wearing a seat belt would have minimized plaintiff’s injuries. The Second Department also noted plaintiff’s request for a missing witness jury instruction was properly denied because there was no showing the witness would have provided material, noncumulative testimony:
A hearsay entry in a hospital record is admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule only if the entry is germane to the diagnosis or treatment of the patient … . However, if the entry is inconsistent with a position taken by a party at trial, it is admissible as an admission by that party, even if it is not germane to diagnosis or treatment, as long as there is “evidence connecting the party to the entry” … . At trial, the plaintiff testified that he was using a seat belt at the time of the accident. The hospital records containing the challenged entries clearly indicated that the plaintiff was the source of the information contained therein … . Accordingly, the challenged entries were properly admitted into evidence.
Although the Supreme Court properly declined to redact the hospital record as requested by the plaintiff, the court nonetheless erred in submitting the seat belt defense to the jury, since the defendants failed to demonstrate, by competent evidence, that the plaintiff’s injuries would have been minimized had he been wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident … . At trial, both of the plaintiff’s treating physicians testified in general terms that use of a seat belt can reduce the risk of injury. This evidence was insufficient to satisfy the defendants’ burden of proof … . Robles v Polytemp, Inc., 2015 NY Slip Op 03341, 2nd Dept 4-22-15