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03/15/89 Glenn Bass, v. Cincinnati

March 15, 1989

GLENN BASS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

CINCINNATI, INCORPORATED, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

536 N.E.2d 831, 180 Ill. App. 3d 1076, 129 Ill. Dec. 781 1989.IL.323

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James S. Quinlan, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court. FREEMAN, P.J., and RIZZI, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WHITE

This interlocutory appeal, pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308 (107 Ill. 2d R. 308), involves four certified questions regarding the scope of discovery and the type of evidence admissible in a products liability action claiming a design defect. In particular, we are asked to determine:

(1) whether evidence of similar post-accident occurrences or injuries involving the same or substantially similar products may be admissible to show that a product is defective;

(2) whether evidence and records of similar post-accident occurrences or injuries involving the same or substantially similar products are discoverable to show that a product is defective;

(3) whether evidence of similar post-accident occurrences or injuries involving the same or substantially similar products may be admissible to show that a manufacturer acted in conscious disregard of the safety of others and should be liable for punitive damages; and

(4) whether evidence and records of similar post-accident occurrences or injuries involving the same or substantially similar products are discoverable to show that a manufacturer's conduct was willful and wanton.

We answer questions 1 and 2 in the affirmative, and questions 3 and 4 in the negative.

Initially, we consider the contention of defendant, Cincinnati, Incorporated, that the application for leave to appeal, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308, was improvidently granted. Citing Voss v. Lincoln Mall Management Co. (1988), 166 Ill. App. 3d 442, 519 N.E.2d 1056, defendant argues that questions involving discovery and evidence disputes are not reviewable under Rule 308. We are aware that discovery orders are not appealable under Rule 308. (People ex rel. Scott v. Silverstein (1981), 87 Ill. 2d 167, 171, 429 N.E.2d 483; Voss, 166 Ill. App. 3d at 452.) However, a distinction exists between questions of law regarding the scope of discovery and evidence, and questions regarding particular discovery and evidentiary rulings of a trial court. We believe that questions of law are reviewable under Rule 308, whereas discovery orders and evidentiary rulings of a trial court are not. (See Meister v. Henson (1987), 151 Ill. App. 3d 1059, 504 N.E.2d 227 (question certified was whether the trial court erred in considering parol or extrinsic evidence as to the intention of the parties in the execution of a release); Hukill v. DiGregorio (1985), 136 Ill. App. 3d 1066, 484 N.E.2d 795 (interlocutory appeal from order denying motion to admit evidence that plaintiff's failure to wear a safety helmet was a breach of plaintiff's duty to exercise care for his own safety); Matviuw v. Johnson (1982), 111 Ill. App. 3d 629, 444 N.E.2d 606 (the appellate court considered two questions on review: (1) may the parties introduce into evidence statements made at a meeting, or does the medical studies act, as amended, preclude the introduction of said statements; and (2) are the statements made at the meeting discoverable or does the medical studies act, as amended, preclude discovery of those statements); County of Peoria v. Schielein (1980), 87 Ill. App. 3d 14, 409 N.E.2d 89; People v. Finley (1974), 21 Ill. App. 3d 335, 315 N.E.2d 229.) The questions which have been certified for our review are questions of law regarding the scope of discovery and evidence in a products liability action. We believed that these questions are reviewable under Rule 308 and that the application for leave to appeal pursuant to Rule 308 was properly granted. We turn then to the questions certified for review.

Question 1

In question 1, we must determine whether evidence of similar post-accident occurrences or injuries involving the same or substantially similar products may be admissible to show that a product is ...


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