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Sarelas v. Alexander

APRIL 23, 1971.

PETER S. SARELAS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, CROSS-APPELLEE,

v.

WILLIAM H. ALEXANDER ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES, CROSS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ABRAHAM W. BRUSSELL, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is a libel action. Plaintiff appeals from orders denying his motion for summary judgment, denying his motion for relief under Section 41 of the Civil Practice Act, denying his motion for an order holding defendant Alexander in contempt of court, dismissing his complaint, and denying his motion for rehearing. Defendants cross-appeal from the denial of their motion for attorney's fees under Section 41 of the Civil Practice Act.

Plaintiff's primary contention is that defendants' preparation and presentation of a certain document in court constituted actionable libel. The document in issue was prepared and placed before a Judge of the Circuit Court by defendants in connection with an action then pending in that court. The portions of the document of which plaintiff complains and which he states refer to himself include the following:

"That the foregoing and numerous other careless, frivolous and impertinent statements of plaintiff in pleadings, motions and other documents on file and in open court constitute a design that is without reasonable cause in the circumstances, not in good faith, and are untrue in some instances, have imposed upon the court as well as defendants, have occasioned unnecessary expense, and are actions tantamount to contempt of this court.

That the above and foregoing is but one of a number of similar suits by plaintiff which with the instant action by him indicate a flaunting of the purposes of the courts and the acts and rules governing rights of action."

Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on September 29, 1967. On March 14, 1968, after hearings on the defense motions the following order was entered by the court:

"THE COURT FINDS that the document complained of in the complaint was an affidavit submitted to the court in the case of Peter S. Sarelas vs. The Law Bulletin Publishing Company, et al. No. 67 L 6297, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division, and as such was a document relevant and pertinent to a judicial proceeding and therefore absolutely and unconditionally privileged; that this affidavit was submitted to a judge of this court in the course of such judicial proceeding on August 15, 1967, was stamped by the Clerk of this court on said date, and made part of the records of this court on that date, but was not formally `filed' until an order granting leave to file was entered on October 5, 1967.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

1. That the complaint of plaintiff be and hereby is dismissed with prejudice and that plaintiff take nothing by this action and that defendants go hence without day;

2. That plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be and hereby is denied;

3. That without hearing or argument the motions of the parties for relief under Section 41 of the Civil Practice Act be and hereby are denied;

4. That the motion of plaintiff for an order holding WILLIAM H. ALEXANDER in contempt of court be and hereby is denied."

The order of March 14 was amended on the motion of defendants on April 4, 1968, by the following order:

"IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the order of March 14, 1968 should be amended, nunc pro tunc, by striking the following words from paragraph 2 thereof:

`* * * was stamped by the clerk of this court on said date, and made part of the records of this ...


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