Google Maps Admitted Into Evidence To Challenge Service Of Process (NY)
Google Maps is often used to get an idea of what a particular piece of property looks like or, for more utility, to gauge the distance between two locations. With respect to the latter, the Civil Court of the City of New York, Bronx County recently took judicial notice, over objection, of information contained in two Google Maps printouts submitted as evidence in a traverse hearing.
In 2437 Valentine Assocs. v. Valverde, et al, 70 Misc. 3d 1216(A) (Civ. Ct. 2021), the defendants moved to vacate a default judgment entered against them in an action for breach of lease. The defendants argued that the Court did not have personal jurisdiction over them, as they were not served with process. The Court set the matter down for a traverse hearing.
The only witness for the plaintiff was the process server. During direct and cross examination, he was questioned about entries made in his logbook which raised questions regarding whether he actually served process at the times and locations alleged. The Court, in its decision, indicated that the process server was simply not credible. Part of that determination was made by using, among other things, exhibits admitted into evidence containing two Google Maps printouts. The Court took judicial notice of only that portion of the maps that indicated the distances between the addresses contained in the process server’s logbook, one being the defendants’ address. Based on that evidence, the Court found that the alleged times of service at those various locations were not credible given the distances between them.
In a footnote, the Court stated, “It is well established that a court can take judicial notice ‘of common and general knowledge, well established and authoritatively settled, not doubtful or uncertain.’” (citing Carter v. Metro N. Assoc., 255 A.D.2d 251, 251 (1st Dep’t 1996)). Continuing, the Court went on to state, “it is well settled that Google Maps accurately depicts distances and locations of nearly everything in the United States.” The Court also observed that “In 2020, Google Maps was used by over 1 billion people every month.”
The Google Maps evidence in that case was admitted into evidence for only a limited purpose. With the proper foundation and authentication, we may see more widespread evidentiary uses of Google Maps moving forward.
Thank you to John Diffley for his contribution to this post. Please e-mail John with any questions.