Mahlandt v. Wild Canid Survival & Research Center, Inc.
588 F.2d 626 (1978)

  • A guy named Poos worked at a wolf research center.  He was keeping a wolf chained up in his yard.
    • Supposedly it was a very docile wolf.
  • Mahlandt (who was 4 years old) came walking down the street, and snuck under the fence into the yard with the wolf.
  • There was some debate about what happened:
    • Mahlandt’s parents argued that the wolf attacked the boy, scratching him up a bit.
    • Poos argued that the wolf was just playing with the boy, and that the scratches came from crawling under the fence.
  • Poos pulled the wolf off the Mahlandt and took him to the hospital.  Mahlandt’s parents sued for damages.
  • At trial, Mahlandt attempted to introduce three admissions by Poos, that the wolf had bitten the boy.
    • A note from Poos to his boss, Sexton.
    • A verbal statement by Poos to Sexton.
    • Minutes from a meeting at Canid (that Poos did not attend) discussing legal issues related to the biting.
  • The Trial Judge refused to admit the evidence, on the grounds that it was hearsay.
    • The Trial Judge found that since Poos did not directly witness the attack, his admissions were unreliable because they were not based on personal knowledge.
  • The Trial Court found for Canid.  Mahlandt appealed.
  • The Appellate Court reversed and remanded for a new trial.
    • The Appellate Court found that the evidence had been improperly excluded.
      • Under FRE 801(d)(2) admissions are not considered to be hearsay.
      • Poos was making his own statement, therefore it is an admission.  Had he said, “I heard that the wolf bit somebody,” then that would be hearsay, not an admission.
    • The Appellate Court found that Poos statement was admissible in the case against Canid, because Poos was operating as an employee of Canid when the statements were made. (See FRE 801(d)(2)(D)).
      • However, the statements made at the board meeting are not admissible against Poos, since he wasn’t there.