Where an owner of a property sues a contractor in a construction litigation case, the burden of proof is upon the owner to both prove that the work was defective and what it will cost to have the defective work repaired. In an unpublished decision from February 2021, the Appellate Division noted that even without testimony from the contractor who prepared the repair estimate, the repair estimate may still be admissible as a business record exception to the rule against hearsay. The court noted that the repair estimate, "may have been admissible as a business record if: (a) the author prepared the document in the regular course of business, contemporaneously with its estimate, and not for litigation, (b) the business regularly made such estimates, and (c) the method, purpose or circumstances of preparation did not indicate that it was not trustworthy. Accordingly, while the better evidence would still be to bring in the contractor for live testimony, the court found that the trial court (among other things) should have at least considered if the estimate was admissible as a business record and therefore the case was reversed and remanded. (Olivera v. NJ Asphalt Services)
Peter J. Vazquez, Jr.