Big Mack Trucking Co., Inc. v. Dickerson
497 S.W.2d 283 (1973)

  • Dickerson and Leday worked for Big Mack.  Leday’s truck rolled into Dickerson, killing him.  Dickerson’s heirs sued Big Mack for wrongful death.
    • Dickerson’s heirs argued that Big Mack had failed to properly maintain the brakes on the truck.
  • At trial, Dickerson’s heir introduced statements made by Leday to Stiles, the VP of Big Mack, and a policeman on the scene.
    • In both cases, Leday stated that his brakes weren’t working.
    • For some reason, Leday did not testify at the trial.
  • Big Mack objected to the evidence on the grounds that it was hearsay.
    • Big Mack argued that admissions made by Leday could only be used against Leday, and could not be admitted into evidence against Big Mack.
  • The Trial Judge allowed the evidence to be admitted.
    • The Trial Judge looked to the common law, which allows admissions to be used against an employer when made by an employee.
      • That’s called an agent admission.
  • The Trial Court found for Dickerson and awarded $220k.  Big Mack appealed.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.  Big Mack appealed.
  • The Texas Supreme Court reversed.
    • The Texas Supreme Court found that admissions made by an employee are only admissible against the employer when the statements were authorized by the employer.
      • Big Mack did not tell Leday to make the admissions, therefore they could not be held responsible for what he said.  In essence, Leday was not operating as an employee when he made the admissions, and therefore they are not covered by the hearsay exception.
        • Leday was paid to drive a truck, not to make statements on behalf of the company.
      • Of course, the admissions are still admissible in the case against Leday.
  • This case was decided under the common law. FRE 801(d)(2)(D) would have changed the ruling here.  Under FRE 801(d)(2)(D) as long as the statements concerned a matter within the scope of their employment, it is admissible as an admission.