Computer-Generated Business Records

How do you get computer-generated business records admitted into evidence?  The same way you get other business records admitted into evidence, according to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In U-Haul Intern., Inc. v. Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., _ F.3d _ (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2009) (No. 07-16187) affirmed a district court’s decision to admit the computer-generated business records into evidence to show payment of indemnity claims and loss adjustment expenses.  The appellate opinion reminds us of the four basic steps to admit business records into evidence under FRE 803(6):

As the district court found (1) the underlying data was entered into the database at or near the time of each payment event; (2) the persons who entered the data had knowledge of the payment event; (3) the data was kept in the course of Republic Western’s regularly conducted business activity; and (4) [claims manager] Mr. Matush was qualified and testified as to this information.

Did the fact that the records were kept on a computer change the analysis?   No?

We have made clear that ‘[f]or the purposes of Rule 803(6), it is immaterial that the business record is maintained in a computer rather than in company books.’ A logical extension on that principle is that evidence that has been compiled from a computer database is also admissible as a business record, provided it meets the criteria of Rule 803(6). Accord United States v. Fujii, 301 F.3d 535, 539 (7th Cir.2002) (holding that computer data compiled in the ordinary course of business and presented in computer printouts prepared for trial is admissible under Rule 803(6)); Potamkin Cadillac Corp. v. B.R.I. Coverage Corp., 38 F.3d 627, 632 (2d Cir. 1994) (“A business record may include data stored electronically on computers and later printed out for presentation in court, so long as the original computer data compilation was prepared pursuant to a business duty in accordance with regular business practice.”) (citation and internal quotations omitted); see also B. Weinstein and M.A. Berger, Weinstein’s Federal Evidence § 901.08[1] (2d. ed. 2006) (stating that “printouts prepared specifically for litigation from databases that were compiled in the ordinary course of business are admissible as business records to the same extent as if the printouts were, themselves, prepared in the ordinary course of business. The important issue is whether the database, not the printout from the database, was compiled in the ordinary course of business”).

TRE 803(6) is substantially similar to FRE 803(6).

Thanks to the  Federal Evidence Blog for bringing this opinion to my attention.