Alternative fact allegations made in good faith and based on genuine doubt are not admissions against interest so as to be admissible in evidence against the pleader.
The surviving widow of a car crash victim contended that the driver of the truck that hit her decedent's car was liable under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. She alternatively pled in a separate count that several dramshop owners were liable under the Illinois Dram Shop Act. The driver argued that the allegations of the separate counts were fatally repugnant, and that the dramshop count was a binding judicial admission that precluded the wrongful death action. The Circuit Court of Champaign County (Illinois) denied defendant driver's motion to dismiss plaintiff surviving widow's complaint, which she filed against the driver under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. The trial court also denied the driver's motions for a directed verdict and entered a judgment after a jury verdict in favor of the surviving widow. The driver appealed the motion denials and the verdict.
Can a complaint contain contradictory allegations?
The court affirmed the judgment that was entered in favor of the surviving widow and against the driver of the truck that hit her decedent's car. In affirming the judgment for the widow, the court held that (1) in the absence of a severance, the widow had the right to go to trial on both of the counts, and to adduce all the proof she had under both counts, (2) alternative fact allegations made in good faith and based on genuine doubt were not admissions against interest so as to be admissible in evidence against the pleader, (3) the widow was not foreclosed ipso facto from going to the jury under alternative counts of a complaint even though the proofs adduced for each count were inconsistent with each other, and (4) the widow was not required to elect her remedy and choose between the alternative counts before requesting that they be submitted to the jury.