Pretrial Objections To Parol Evidence Not Enough To Save Issue For Appeal

This case involves a dispute over the sale of land. Wheeler-Dealer asked the court to reform or rescind of the deed. Defendant Roger Christ won after a bench trial. Wheeler-Dealer appealed the verdict.

One of Wheeler-Dealer’s arguments to the First District Illinois Appellate Court was that parol evidence improperly was admitted at the trial. Wheeler-Dealer claimed that it objected to “the admission of any oral statements going to the intent of the parties at the time that they entered into the real estate contract and that it again objected to such evidence in its brief filed with the circuit court prior to the commencement of trial.”

Not good enough, according to the appellate court. The court ruled that the pretrial objections did not save the issue for appeal. “Timeliness requires that an objection be made when the evidence is offered at trial … Although a party may have objected to the evidence at some pre-trial stage in the proceedings or unsuccessfully moved to bar the evidence prior to trial, it must still renew its objection at the time that the evidence is offered … Failure to renew the objection when the evidence is offered at trial results in a waiver of any challenge to the circuit court’s consideration of that evidence.”

The lesson bears repeating. To assure an evidentiary objection is preserved for appeal, no matter how many pre-trial objections were made, you should object to it at trial. Otherwise you risk waiving the objection in the appellate court.

Get the whole case, Wheeler-Dealer, Ltd. v. Christ, No. 1-07-0970 (3/4/08), by clicking here.