Illinois Appellate Court Finds that Restriction on Order Regarding Motion in Limine Does Not Prevent Other Party from Attempting to Enter Evidence for a Permitted Use

On Jan. 27, 2011, there was a multi-car crash on Interstate 294 in the Chicago suburbs. Kevin Boyd George drove his car into the rear of another car and that car was in turn pushed into a car driven by the plaintiff, John Larkin.

Larkin’s car was pushed into the car in front of him. He filed a lawsuit on March 1, 2012 claiming that he suffered “numerous injuries” due to the negligent driving by the defendant, Kevin Boyd George.

At the scene of the crash, Larkin did not report any injury, but on the following day he did go to an urgent care center reporting pain in his left ankle. Larkin ultimately had to undergo two orthopedic procedures to correct the pain and reported continuing pain, which prevented him from participating in family and recreational activities that included golf and basketball, which he claimed to have participated in regularly.

Before the case went to a jury trial, Larkin filed a motion in limine seeking to bar George from presenting photographs showing the damages sustained by the cars involved in the original collision that began the chain reaction.

The trial judge granted the motion in limine allowing the use of photographs to show only the point of impact, not the extent of the damage. At trial, the attorney for George attempted to enter some photographs into evidence to discuss the point of impact. Larkin objected, and the trial judge did not allow any photographs to be viewed by the jury.

The jury found in favor of the defendant George. Larkin moved for a new trial arguing that defense counsel “repeatedly violated [his] motion in limine when counsel intentionally brought up the pictures in the presence of the jury multiple times,” allowing the jurors to “speculate” about them.

Larkin also claimed that the verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence. Larkin’s motion was denied, and he then took this appeal.

On appeal, Larkin argued that the defendant George “blatantly ignored” the motion in limine by attempting to enter the photographs into evidence. Larkin claimed the jury then knew of the photographs, observed a sidebar about them and was “left to speculate” on what they contained and why they were not permitted. Larkin claimed this to be prejudicial against his case.

The appeals panel did not agree with the Larkin argument. The attorney for George was not prohibited from using the photographs at trial, but limited in their use to showing the “point of impact.” At trial, defense counsel properly attempted to submit the photographs to show point of impact, and the trial court, on consideration, ruled them inadmissible. Both George and the trial court correctly adhered to the in limine order regarding the photographs. The appellate court found that the attorney for George was not in violation of the in limine order by mentioning the photographs at other points during the trial. The appellate court noted that Larkin failed to provide any evidence that the jury understood the photographs to be prejudicial to his case or that they were prejudiced against him by merely knowing of the existence of the photographs.

The appellate court noted that “bare speculation and unsupported presumptions are insufficient to establish that plaintiff was prejudiced.” As a result, the appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s decision.

John Larkin v. Kevin Boyd George, 2016 IL App (1st) Case No.152209 (Oct. 31, 2016).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling rear-end crash cases, automobile accident cases, truck accident cases, bicycle injury cases and motorcycle accident cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding areas, including Schiller Park, Tinley Park, Lemont, Carpentersville, Wheaton, Winnetka, Wilmette, Evanston, Skokie, Des Plaines, Morton Grove, Chicago (Streeterville, East Side, South Shore, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Chinatown, Rogers Park, Albany Park, Jefferson Park, Austin, North Lawndale, Hegewisch), New Lenox, South Barrington, Bensenville and Alsip, Ill.

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