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Proesel v. Myers Pub. Co.

FEBRUARY 29, 1960.

HENRY PROESEL, APPELLANT,

v.

MYERS PUBLISHING COMPANY, AND EDWARD F. REAM, JR., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Superior Court of Cook county; the Hon. HARRY M. FISHER, Judge, presiding. Reversed and remanded.

JUSTICE MCCORMICK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Rehearing denied March 28, 1960.

This is an appeal from an order of the Superior Court of Cook County entered July 16, 1958, sustaining defendants' motions to strike and dismiss plaintiff's second amended complaint.

In the second amended complaint the plaintiff alleges that he for many years has been and is now president of the Village of Lincolnwood, Illinois, and president of the Bank of Lincolnwood, in the Village of Lincolnwood; that he has had the good opinion and esteem of the residents of said community and has established among the people of the community an excellent reputation for business skill and ability, for honesty, integrity and good character; and that defendant Myers Publishing Co. (hereafter referred to as "Myers") is the owner, printer and publisher of "The Life of Niles Township," a newspaper circulating generally in Lincolnwood, Skokie, and other suburbs north of the City of Chicago, and in the City of Chicago, Illinois.

Plaintiff further alleges:

"3. That on August 23, 1956, the defendant, Myers Publishing Co., a corporation, did print, publish, circulate and distribute copies of the newspaper, `The Life of Niles Township,' containing on page 1 thereof an article with a large four-column headline entitled `Ream Cites Need for Audit in Lincolnwood;' a sub-caption `Says Proesel Using Flood as Cover-up' in smaller but boldface type; and another sub-caption `Tells What Happened to $100,000 of Water Bond Money.' That said article was continued on page 2 of Section 2 of said newspaper. That said article, in addition to the headlines and sub-headlines quoted above contained, among others, the following statements:

"`Ream was one of the Lincolnwood leaders who objected to the method proposed to finance combined sewer and waterworks construction, and in two referendums defeated the Proesel administration plan.'

"`The poor judgment exhibited by Proesel and some of his cohorts, and their inept manner of handling some recent personnel and zoning problems have opened the eyes of many of the villagers and brought storms of criticism on the administration.'

"`The sewer project was never offered separately, although part of the Morse Avenue sewer was constructed apparently by diverting funds raised by selling more bonds than were necessary for waterworks construction.' (Italics supplied.)

"`Nearly $100,000.00 in bonds to be paid for by high water rates, were sold over and above the cost of the waterworks set up by the ordinance.' (Italics contained in newspaper article.)

"`Approximately $50,000.00 of this money was used to enlarge or replace the water main in Crawford Avenue, to cover up an error in original selection of the pumping station site.' (Italics contained in newspaper article.)

"`The remainder of the money apparently went into the $90,000 Morse Avenue sewer back of the new Ditto plant. Ditto, and perhaps others, also paid for part of this sewer, since for their convenience, other sewers were closed off. The real story will probably never be known until we get an independent audit of the Village finances.' (Italics contained in newspaper article.)

"`Proesel has since stymied further construction on Morse Avenue, though home-owner groups have petitioned him to take action. One ordinance for its construction presented in the "back room" to the Board of Trustees nearly one year ago was mysteriously withdrawn.'

"`Today apparently only Proesel knows whether Lincolnwood will ever get the Morse Avenue interceptor.'

"and again,

"`The trustees followed cues with Proesel reading years-old newspaper clippings and letters directly to the audience.'

"`Henry Proesel, President of the Board. . . .'

"`Proesel Heads the administration. . . .'"

The plaintiff states in his complaint that the article was a statement which had been submitted to the newspaper by the defendant Edward F. Ream, Jr., (hereafter referred to as "Ream") for the purpose of publication. The plaintiff further alleges:

"6. That on August 30, 1956, the defendant corporation published in its newspaper `The Life of Niles Township' an article entitled `For Newcomers to Lincolnwood,' in large headlines across three columns, `Ream Explains Why Voters Said "No" to Sewer Plan.' That said article consisted almost entirely of a `statement' submitted to the defendant, Myers Publishing Co., by the defendant, Edward F. Ream, Jr. That among other things, said article contained the following statements:

"`Ditto offered the Village $35,000 to reroute this Kimball Avenue sewer eastward on Morse direct to McCormick Boulevard and the canal, thus taking it off their property. . . .'

"`Existence of the $35,000 kitty from Ditto was denied at the time by the Administration and no allowance was made for it in ...


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