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Action on contract. Waynesboro City Court. Before Judge Price. July 7, 1959.
An objection to evidence based on one good ground is sufficient though the evidence may be inadmissible for other reasons.
James A. Watson, Jr., trading as Watson Automotive Equipment Company, filed suit against Knox Metal Products, Inc., in the City Court of Waynesboro. The petition set forth a contract which existed between the parties whereby Knox Metal Products, Inc., was to furnish James A. Watson, Jr., two thousand five hundred (2,500) fourteen foot (14') truck bodies at an agreed price. Watson alleged that certain warranties and specifications were a part of the contract; that these specifications included a provision that, in addition to any policy guarantees usually extended to the general public, Knox Metal Products, Inc., would be required to guarantee the vehicles and parts thereof against defective material and workmanship for a period of one (1) year from date of acceptance, or four thousand (4,000) miles, whichever first might occur; Watson alleged that the truck bodies furnished by Knox Metal Products, Inc., became defective during the warranty period, which allegation Knox Metal Products, Inc., denied. On the trial the jury returned a verdict for James A. Watson, doing business as Watson Automotive Equipment Company, which verdict was made the judgment of the court. Knox Metal Products, Inc., filed a motion for new trial on the general grounds which was later amended to include two (2) special grounds. The trial court denied the motion for new trial as amended, and to this judgment Knox Metal Products, Inc., excepts.
On cross-examination the witness admitted that his knowledge of the facts to which he testified on direct examination was gained solely from the records kept by others. The record clearly reveals that he did not see the trucks himself or have the opportunity to inspect them. The plaintiff insists that the evidence was not hearsay, but was secondary evidence. There is no error in admitting evidence where no valid ground for its exclusion is urged, though it be inadmissible for some other reason. Ray v. Wood, 93 Ga. App. 763 (92 S. E. 2d 820); Cox v. Cody & Co., 75 Ga. 175 (1a); Giles v. Vandiver, 91 Ga. 192, 193 (6) (17 S. E. 115). So if the testimony of King as to the contents of records he did not keep was inadmissible only because it was secondary, no objection having been interposed to it on that ground, the exception to its admission is not well taken.
The distinction between secondary and hearsay evidence in some instances is important, because secondary evidence admitted without objection may support a recovery or defense (Georgia Coast & Piedmont R. Co. v. Herrington, 14 Ga. App. 539 (2), 81 S. E. 814), whereas hearsay evidence is without probative value, except under circumstances not here involved, and ordinarily can not supply any element of proof necessary to make out a case or establish a defense. Nesbit v. State, 71 Ga. App. 744 (1) (32 S. E. 2d 207); Stow v. Hargrove, 203 Ga. 735, 736 (6) (48 S. E. 2d 454). As a matter of course evidence may be both secondary and hearsay, in which event it still would furnish no basis of recovery or defense.
Evidence submitted on trial is frequently inadmissible for more than one reason. An objection to evidence based on one good ground is sufficient though the evidence may be inadmissible for other reasons.
Since that time our appellate courts have steadfastly adhered to that holding. Parrott & Bro. v. Johnson, 61 Ga. 475 (1) holds: "The testimony of one holding the position of chemist to the department of agriculture, for the analysis of fertilizers, is not admissible, if the fact to which it relates seems to rest on hearsay, rather than on personal knowledge. Thus, where the quality and effects of a certain commercial fertilizer are in question, and the chemist, answering to interrogatories; says, 'tests of this guano made in different parts of the state by the department of agriculture, have been satisfactory, as to its value as a food for plants,' the answer is incompetent testimony."
Central of Georgia Ry. Co. v. Jaques & Tinsley Co., 23 Ga. App. 396 (1) (98 S. E. 357) holds: "In the light of the qualifying note of the trial judge, it does not appear that he erred in excluding the testimony of the witness Montgomery as to the weights of the carload lots of corn shipped. It is not permissible for a witness to testify to facts the knowledge of which he has obtained from records not personally kept by him."
Nor is the rule affected by the fact that the witness obtained the information from books and records kept by a fellow employee of the same corporation. Kelley Bros. Co. v. Globe Soap Co., 142 Ga. 246 (82 S. E. 662).
In the instant case the witness was explicit that the facts to which he swore were ascertained from reports concerning which he was otherwise uninformed.
Where hearsay evidence is erroneously admitted though it has no probative value, but could have been considered by the jury and have influenced their verdict, the error is hurtful. First Nat. Bank of Sparta v. City of Sparta, 154 Ga. 25 (3) (114 S. E. 221).
It appears that the admission of the hearsay evidence was prejudicial error and demands the reversal of the judgment denying the defendant a new trial.
2. The evidence that may be submitted on another trial of the case may differ materially from that adduced on the trial we now review, consequently, we do not pass on the general grounds of the motion for a new trial.
Kenneth E. Goolsby, George W. Fryhofer, contra.
Lewis & Lewis, Preston B. Lewis, Robert E. Knox, for plaintiff in error.
Saturday May 23 00:46 EDT

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