Virginia Supreme Court Emphasizes Importance of Contemporaneous Objections

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The recently handed down opinion of the Virginia Supreme Court in Arnold v. Wallace, 2012 Va. LEXIS 80 (April 20, 2012), highlights for personal injury practitioners of all types, including those of us who litigate in the area of medical malpractice, the importance of well-stated, contemporaneous evidentiary objections during the course of trial.

Arnold was an automobile liability case in which the plaintiff alleged negligence against another driver. During Plaintiff's case-in-chief she called one of her treating physicians to testify about her injuries. On cross-examination, defense counsel to admit the medical records into evidence; Plaintiff's counsel objected on the ground that a proper foundation had not been laid that Dr. was the records custodian. Following a renewed cross-examination of Dr., defense counsel again offered into evidence the exhibit, and Plaintiff's counsel renewed the objection for lack of foundation. The trial court overruled the objections and admitted the exhibit.

Plaintiff's counsel argued that defense counsel failed to establish the elements of the business records exception to the hearsay rule. The defendant responded that the plaintiff failed to inform the trial court that she objected to any medical opinions contained in the chart; and the presence of an opinion in a proffered business record constitutes an independent ground for objection which plaintiff's counsel failed to assert at trial.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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