Doctrine of Curative Admissibility Law and Legal Definition

The doctrine of curative admissibility allows a litigant to introduce otherwise inadmissible evidence to rebut the admission of improper evidence by an opponent. It is a rule of fundamental fairness that evidence otherwise irrelevant or incompetent, if offered by one party in the first instance, may become relevant in rebuttal or to explain evidence offered or injected into the record by the adversary. For example, in a suit on a life insurance policy, a defense is interposed that in his application the insured made knowingly false statements with intent to defraud the insurer, evidence that the insured had a good reputation for truth and veracity became admissible. This doctrine is applicable to both civil and criminal cases.

Modern application of the doctrine of curative admissibility can be found in the case Werdell v. Turzynski, 128 Ill. App. 2d 139 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 1970), which was a suit by an attorney against a former client for attorney's fees. At trial the defendant gave an unresponsive answer to a question and improperly told the jury that the plaintiff was a dishonest and corrupt man. The court allowed the plaintiff to respond to this with the testimony of five members of the judiciary as witnesses to plaintiff's good character. The court allowed plaintiff's curative testimony, utilizing a test of "fundamental fairness" in determining whether the responsive evidence should be admitted.

However, this doctrine does not automatically entitle a party to respond with improper evidence simply because his/her opponent has done so.