I thought about that when reading Hill v. Tangherlini, an Aug. 1 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The appellate court affirmed a grant of summary judgment to an employer in a Title VII case. The opinion notes that the plaintiff was terminated for the failure to meet his employer's expectations, including appropriate interactions with co-workers.
In support of his position, the plaintiff had offered his own affidavit and affidavits from co-workers, which the trial court discredited because of their "self-serving" nature.
Even though the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment, judges took pains to explain that the trial court’s ruling was error: “Deposition testimony, affidavits, responses to interrogatories, and other written statements by their nature are self-serving … the term ‘self-serving’ must not be used to denigrate perfectly admissible evidence through which a party tries to present its side of the story at summary judgment.”
All that matters, notes the Seventh Circuit, is whether testimony is based on personal knowledge and sets forth specific facts.
In a footnote, the court overruled some 20 of its previous decisions in which it used the "self-serving" doctrine in granting and affirming summary judgment. Now, you tell us! Thanks for nothing! Oh well, better late than never.