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Ward v. Forest Preserve District

FEBRUARY 11, 1957.

MATTHIAS P. WARD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

FOREST PRESERVE DISTRICT OF WINNEBAGO COUNTY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND GRANVILLE H. COBURN, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago county; the Hon. ALBERT S. O'SULLIVAN, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.

JUSTICE CROW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Rehearing denied May 7, 1957.

On December 8, 1954 Matthias P. Ward, as plaintiff, brought an action against the Forest Preserve District of Winnebago county, a municipal corporation, and Granville H. Coburn, its superintendent, as defendants to recover damages for slander. Motion to dismiss complaint on behalf of both defendants was filed and after hearing had an order was entered by the trial court granting the motions to dismiss the complaint filed December 8, 1954 and said complaint was dismissed accordingly. Leave was then granted by the court to plaintiff to file an amended complaint against the same two defendants.

The amended complaint was in three counts. In each count it is alleged that the defendant, Granville H. Coburn, on the 10th day of May, 1954 in the Forest Preserve spoke the following words: "You (meaning the plaintiff) are a Communist." On this allegation plaintiff is seeking damages from the defendant, Forest Preserve District of Winnebago county in counts I and II of the amended complaint and from defendant, Granville H. Coburn, in counts I and III of the amended complaint.

A motion to dismiss the amended complaint was made by the defendant, Forest Preserve District of Winnebago county, who moved the court to dismiss the amended complaint and for the court to enter judgment for the defendant, Forest Preserve District of Winnebago county and against the plaintiff for the following reasons:

1. Plaintiff failed to set forth a cause of action against the Forest Preserve District of Winnebago county.

2. This defendant is a municipal corporation engaged fully in maintaining Forest Preserve Districts for the benefit and enjoyment of the public and that it cannot be answerable in slander for opinions of its employees as to the political affiliations of other persons.

3. The alleged slanderous remarks as set forth in the complaint show of themselves that they could not have been issued in the course of the said employee's employment or relative to its business.

4. The alleged slanderous statement in said complaint is not slanderous per se and no special damages have been alleged in said complaint.

A similar motion to dismiss the amended complaint was filed by the defendant, Granville H. Coburn, who moved the court to dismiss the amended complaint as to him and enter judgment against the plaintiff and for the defendant, Granville H. Coburn, for the following reasons:

1. The complaint fails to set forth a cause of action.

2. The alleged slanderous remarks are not slanderous per se and that the plaintiff has failed to allege special damages.

3. That the statement of this defendant as to the political beliefs of the plaintiff do not constitute slander.

4. The purported allegations in said complaint regarding the publication of the alleged slanderous words are a mere conclusion and ...


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