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I Object! A Blog on Preservation of Error

October 2014

October 20, 2014 1:05 PM | Posted by Joseph H. Lang, Jr. | Permalink
Preservation of Error TipsToday, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in Khan v. Chowdhury, Case No. 13-1479. Notwithstanding the denial, this case is notable, as it highlights a recurring issue in preserving error for appeal: proposing the proper verdict form at trial.

In Khan, the question presented was as follows:

Where one of the claims submitted to a jury is set aside after trial, must a court vacate the jury’s general verdict, or may the court apply a “harmless error” exception?

Traditionally, the Baldwin principle has governed in federal courts. See Maryland v. Baldwin, 112 U.S. 490 (1884). In Baldwin, the Supreme Court held that a general verdict must be vacated if any invalid theory was presented to the jury:

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October 2, 2014 8:26 AM | Posted by Wendy F. Lumish and Jorge Perez Santiago | Permalink
Preservation of Error Tips

A recent case out of Connecticut, White v. Mazda Motor of Am., Inc., 313 Conn. 610 (2014), illustrates the importance of sufficiently pleading claims and defenses, and moving for leave to amend the pleadings if there is some question or doubt as to whether a claim or a defense has been sufficiently pled. 

In White, the plaintiff initiated a product liability action against Mazda and the auto dealership after his vehicle caught fire. He alleged that there was a specific defect in the fuel line. After the plaintiff’s expert’s revealed that he was not an expert in the area in which he proposed to testify, and he declined to provide an opinion regarding whether the automobile was defective, the defendants moved for summary judgment arguing that the plaintiff could not prove a specific defect. The trial court granted summary judgment based on the absence of expert testimony as to a specific defect...

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October 1, 2014 11:49 AM | Posted by Sylvia H. Walbolt | Permalink

If it wasn’t raised on the record in the trial court, it didn’t happen for purposes of appeal.  Like every generalization, there are exceptions to that rule.  But no appellate lawyer wants to be in the position of having to come within some narrow exception for raising unpreserved error on appeal in order to prevail.

So, it’s critical for trial lawyers (and appellate lawyers who help at trial) to know the rules for preserving the record for appeal.  Following these rules has the added advantage of helping you win at trial – after all, the trial judge is more likely to get it right if he or she hears your arguments while the case is still ongoing.

This blog is dedicated to preservation of error, both at trial and on the appeal itself.  In short, we want to help you make your case more appealing.  We will post brief case studies along with practical tips on preserving error and lessons learned from failing to do so.

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