Depositions of Gravely Ill Illinois Claimants
Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 96, 2008
4 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2008 Last revised: 5 Sep 2008
Date Written: August 6, 2008
A majority in Berry v. American Standard Inc., 888 N.E.2d 740 (Ill. App. 5th 2008) found that while a trial court judgment for the defendants was "correct under law", "the justice system" failed the claimant. The injustice in the affirmation of the circuit court ruling arose because the claimant died before his evidence deposition could be taken, his discovery deposition was inadmissible, and there was insufficient other evidence on liability even though defendants seemingly "were in control of the discovery deposition" and had taxed the claimant, a terminally ill man, in ways that made "it impossible for him to give an evidence deposition." The injustice to future claimants can and should be avoided by modifications to Illinois deposition practices.
Modifications should not involve many more prelawsuit depositions of claimants. Rather, Illinois civil procedure rules on using depositions at trial should be liberally construed "to the end that controversies may be speedily and finally determined according to the substantive rights of the parties." Thus, defendants who drag on civil actions and tax gravely ill claimants, making their evidence depositions impossible due to death, should have to confront the discovery depositions of those claimants. An evidence bar to such discovery depositions is often both incorrect under law, given Illinois Supreme Court Rules 2 (on interpreting court rules) and 212 (on using depositions), as well as a failure of justice.
Keywords: depositions, evidence, civil procedure
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