The Admission of Government Agency Reports under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(8)(c)

Spring 2009

In product liability and other tort actions, plaintiffs may seek to introduce government records or documents, federal and nonfederal alike, to establish one or more elements of their claims. In this regard, plaintiffs attempt to rely on reports or letters written by government agencies responsible for overseeing the health, safety, and consumer aspects of the product at issue in the particular case. As the size of the administrative state grows, the number of agency records available for this purpose is increasing. Such reports and letters can be portrayed as powerful and persuasive evidence when described as comprehensive and detailed descriptions of an accident, a product, or an event. Further, because such reports are prepared by a government agency, a jury will likely give considerable deference to the conclusions in these reports or letters.

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