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EVIDENCE OF VEHICLE VALUE CAN COME FROM KELLEY BLUE BOOKSurprisingly, a recent Court of Appeal ruling  from the Fourth Appellate District about a criminal case could possibly have some benefit to people seeking recovery or reimbursement for property damage to their automobiles.

The underlying case, referred to as The People v. Tyrus Jenkins, G059110, involved criminal charges against Mr. Jenkins for a variety of offenses, including “attempted unlawful taking of a car”, and resulted in a conviction and total prison sentence of 13 years.  This particular charge required the prosecution to show the car involved in the attempted taking had a value of more than $950, and the prosecutor relied on the testimony of a detective, who had searched Kelley Blue Book’s website and determined the lowest trade-in value of the subject car was estimated at $1,800 to 2,240.  This testimony had been admitted into evidence as an exception to the hearsay exclusion under Evidence Code, Section 1340, the “published compilation exception”.

Upon review, the Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling on admissibility, concluding that the prosecution had demonstrated all 5 requisite elements to qualify for the published compilation exception, specifically that:

  • “the proferred statement must be contained in a ‘compilation’;
  • the compilation must be ‘published’;
  • the compilation must be ‘generally used…in the course of a business’;
  • it must be ‘generally…relied upon as accurate’ in the course of such business; and
  • the statement must be one of fact rather than opinion. [Citation].”

People v. Franzen (2012) 210 Cal. App. 4th 1193, 1206 (Franzen).

A ruling like this could be quite useful in demonstrating the replacement value of a vehicle damaged in a car accident, or to show diminution of value as a result of the crash.  However, it is important to keep in mind that the prosecution had to make a substantial showing of evidence of each of these elements, which the Court of Appeal clearly and concisely scrutinized in its ruling, and a close reading of the opinion and/or consultation with competent, experienced attorneys are recommended.

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