Double Death


Action by P, executor of V's estate, against D for V's wrongful death. Evidence is introduced to show that V was struck in a crosswalk by a hit-and-run driver. V was taken to a hospital and her condition worsened. V knew death was imminent and shouted out, "It was that bastard D who hit me." The only auditor of this statement was A, another patient in the room with V. After V's body was wheeled out of the room, the doctor told A his death was imminent. A then said to the doctor, "Before I die I must unburden myself. V told me that it was D who hit her." A then dies. At trial, P calls the doctor to testify to A's statement. D objects. What ruling and why?

What rule would you propose for dying declarations? Would it be the same for civil and criminal cases? Should the admissibility of hearsay dying declarations depend upon the declarant's belief in an afterlife?

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