First District Appellate Rules No Waiver Of Spoliation Argument Despite Lack of Citation To Authority

Contrast this case with Goldberg v. Rush University, directly below. In Fuller Family Holdings v. Northern Trust Co., 1-06-1533 (2/13/07), the same First District Court of Appeals (but a different panel) decided to overlook a party’s lack of citation to authority in its spoliation of evidence argument and rejected a waiver argument. The court fell back on the mantra that waiver is “an admonition to the parties and not a limitation on the jurisdiction of this court . . . Therefore, in order to provide a just result and to maintain a sound and uniform body of precedent, a court of review may exercise its discretion to disregard considerations of waiver that stem from the adversarial nature of our system.” Having hung its hat on this language, the court then, without analysis, “declined” to find waiver and stated it “believed” it was appropriate to decide the issue.

The Fuller Family Trust had much better luck than Dr. Goldberg on the same issue in the case I discussed on May 3 (directly below). The two cases illustrate how arbitrary “waiver” is. It’s particularly confounding for the appellate practitioner because most courts do not go beyond the black letter law that supports their conclusion. That’s why a case like Fuller Family Trust is not helpful on this question of waiver. The opinion does not state how overlooking waiver “provide[s] a just result and . . . maintain[s] a sound and uniform body of precedent.” Other than a desire to reach the issue, why is waiver here any different than it was in Goldberg, which came to exactly the opposite conclusion?