During the course of a legal case involving Florida businesses, it is common for one or more of the parties to depose employees, executives, and other individuals who might have knowledge that is relevant to the dispute. These deponents generally fall into one of two categories:
- Corporate representatives, or
- Individual witnesses
A corporate representative is an individual who is designated by an organization to speak on its behalf. It’s usually an employee who has special access to the company’s records or has some unique knowledge about a project, but it doesn’t have to be.
An individual witness, on the other hand, is a person who is speaking on their own behalf. They may be an employee or contractor of the company. They may even be an unrelated third party.
Though both categories of deponents can provide invaluable insight into a dispute, they are not treated the same way by the courts. Let’s explore the most notable difference:
Depositions do not typically take place in a courtroom. However, the deponent is still under oath. This means, when an individual witness responds to a lawyer’s question, they are bound to their answer. In other words, they are committing to their position.
The same is true of a corporate representative. Their answers are binding. However, they’re not just committing themselves to a position. They are committing their organization to the position.
If an organization later provides testimony that contradicts its representative’s testimony, a court may strike it from the record if it finds that:
- The prior deposition was provided by a duly noticed designee
- The new testimony directly contradicts the old testimony regarding matters of fact
- There is no credible or reasonable explanation for the contradiction, and
- Striking the testimony is necessary to protect the integrity of the judicial process
This standard was set out in the case of Carriage Hills Condominium v. JBH Roofing.
However, even if a court does not find sufficient evidence to strike a contradictory statement, the opposing litigant may use the contradiction to support their argument at trial.
Knowledgeable Business Litigation Attorneys in Jupiter, FL
If your organization is involved in a lawsuit, and you need a skilled business litigation attorney to guide you through the process, please contact our experienced business litigation attorneys at The Frazer Firm. Call our office at 561-295-1551 to schedule a consultation.
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