“Invited Error” Prevents Med Mal Plaintiff’s Appeal Of Evidentiary Ruling

David Mount had a cardiac arrest that caused brain damage and other injuries. David’s guardians sued his doctors for medical malpractice. A jury concluded that the doctors were not guilty. David’s guardians appealed to the First District Illinois Appellate Court. The appellate court affirmed the judgment in favor of the doctors.

On appeal, David’s lawyer argued that the trial court should have allowed certain statements by one of the doctors to be used as substantive evidence. Instead, the trial judge limited the doctor’s statements for impeachment purposes only − i.e., “solely for purposes of assessing the weight to be given to the testimony of the witness in the courtroom.” But David’s lawyer did not object when the trial court placed limits on how the doctor’s testimony could be used.

The appellate court rejected David’s arguments that the doctor’s testimony should have been admitted for their full, substantive value. The court invoked the “invited error doctrine,” which prevents a party from appealing an evidentiary ruling that he procured or invited, or in which he acquiesced. Here’s the court’s rationale:

In the case at bar, plaintiffs invited, or at the very least acquiesced to, the trial court’s ruling to admit the two statements for impeachment purposes only. With respect to the first statement, plaintiffs asked the trial court to admit it for impeachment purposes, and the trial court did exactly that. With respect to the second statement, when the trial court ruled it admissible for impeachment purposes only, plaintiffs thanked the court for its ruling. While defense counsel objected to preserve the issue for appeal, plaintiffs stood by and voiced no objection. Plaintiffs’ lack of an objection was not surprising since they thought they were “winning.” After inviting and acquiescing to the trial court’s rulings, plaintiffs cannot now complain about these same rulings on appeal.

Get the whole case, LaSalle Bank v. The Chicago Trust Company, No. 1-06-1859 (8/4/08), by clicking here.