Articles Posted in Appellate Theory of Case

Witte Brothers is an intersate trucking company. After an audit, under protest, Witte paid Illinois for “pass-through” miles [distance driven in Illinois without picking up or delivering goods].

Witte sued Illinois for reimbursement of the taxes. The trial court ruled that the Illinois Income Tax Act did not allow the State to tax truckers pass-through miles. So Illinois appealed.

Among other things, Witte argued in the appellate court that taxing pass-through miles violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. But Witte did not raise this argument in the trial court, nor allege it as a separate count in its complaint. So the First District Illinois Appellate Court refused to consider the argument.

A baby sustained serious injuries at birth. His parents sued the doctor who performed the delivery for medical malpractice. The parents got a favorable trial verdict, so the doctor appealed.

In the appellate court, the doctor claimed he should have been awarded a directed verdict by the trial court “because there was a total failure of proof on the element of proximate causation.” But the doctor’s brief asked for a new trial, but did not ask the appellate court to reverse based on insufficient evidence.

The Second District Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the doctor forfeited “in [his] brief” the argument that the judgment should be reversed for lack of evidence. The court then reviewed the doctor’s notice of appeal, which did ask to “vacate or reverse the judgment, to enter judgment notwithstanding the verdict in their [parent’s] favor … and to grant any other relief warranted by the applicable law and record on appeal.”

Gul Nageen Ahmed, at age 7, was riding her bicycle near a retention pond. She lost control of the bike, slid down an embankment into the pond, and drowned.

Wasim Ahmed, as administrator of Gul’s estate, sued the homeowner association that owned the retention pond and the association’s property manager. A jury gave the estate a $100,000 judgment.

The estate’s theory at trial was that other debris in the pond caused Gul to get entangled with her bicycle, entrapping her in the water. The jury was given a special interrogatory, to which the estate did not object, asking, “Did the rusted bicycle proximately cause Gul Ahmed’s death?” The jury answered, “No.” The homeowner association then asked, and the trial judge agreed, to vacate the judgment as being irreconcilable with the jury’s answer to the question.

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