Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. Jack
Hoogasian, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE LINDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff, Catherine Happ Lounsbury, sued defendants Dr. Dionisio Yorro and St. Therese Hospital in the circuit court of Lake County for negligent medical treatment of plaintiff. Summary judgment was entered for St. Therese, and the case proceeded to trial against defendant Dr. Yorro. As the issues on this appeal relate to closing argument and the court's refusal to give a tendered instruction, it is unnecessary to belabor this opinion with the evidence adduced at trial. The jury returned a verdict for defendant, and the trial court entered judgment on the verdict. Plaintiff's post-trial motion was denied and she appeals.
Plaintiff raises two issues on appeal: (a) whether reversible error occurred when the trial court prevented plaintiff's attorney from commenting on the criminal standard of proof during closing argument and (b) whether the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the definition of proximate cause tendered by the plaintiff.
Early in the closing argument of plaintiff's counsel, the following colloquy occurred:
"MR. LAATSCH [Plaintiff's attorney]: * * * In respect to the burden of proof, I would encourage you to note that I do not have to prove my case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the criminal standard. And the standard —
MR. ROGERS [Defendant's attorney]: Your Honor, I object. He is talking about criminal matters.
MR. LAATSCH: It is only necessary that I prove my burden in terms of it being more likely true than not true.
MR. ROGERS: I have to object to that part.
MR. LAATSCH: In other words, if you were to imagine the scales of justice, if you weighed the evidence on the one scale on behalf of the Defendant, and on the other scale on behalf of the Plaintiff, if it tilts —
MR. ROGERS: Excuse me, Your Honor. Objection.
THE COURT: Let me see both of you, please.
MR. LAATSCH: I don't have to prove my case beyond a ...