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Wexler v. Chicago Tribune Co.

OPINION FILED MARCH 16, 1979.

SAMUEL T. WEXLER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE COMPANY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JEROME LERNER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MEJDA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, an attorney, appeals from the dismissal of his complaint against the Chicago Tribune Company, the Chicago Tribune and two reporters, Jerry Thornton and Philip Wattley, alleging that a news article published in the Chicago Tribune on or about October 4, 1977, was libelous. On appeal, plaintiff contends that the complaint is sufficient to sustain a cause of action for libel in that it sets forth sufficient factual allegations and properly pleads special damages. We affirm.

The article which is the basis of plaintiff's claim reads in its entirety as follows:

"ATTACK LEFT MAN DANGLING 14 FLOORS UP

By Jerry Thornton and Philip Wattley

What really happened in a predawn true-life melodrama high over the loop?

Did someone really try to throw a wealthy beer truck driver off a 16th-floor fire escape, or was it all a misunderstanding?

After two days of investigating the incident at the Bismarck Hotel building, police decided Wednesday to turn the case over to the state's attorney's office for unraveling.

Meanwhile Henry Lazewski, 55, who gave his address as the Elmwood Park Hotel, was home from the hospital nursing a dandy set of bruises; and Raymond Schultz, 46, 8605 W. 86th St., Justice, was charged with attempted murder. He is to appear Tuesday in Felony Court.

Police said the incident began early Monday morning in the office of attorney, Samuel T. Wexler, 70.

Police Sgt. George Owen, of the Area 1 homicide unit, said a security guard and a window washer in the Bismarck rescued Lazewski as a man in a dark suit with a bright flowered shirt was attempting to hurl him off the fire escape.

Schultz, wearing only a T-shirt and dark trousers, was found a short time later in a 10th floor washroom. The flowered shirt was recovered from the roof of a parking garage next to the hotel.

Schultz was identified by Lazewski as his assailant.

Owen said Lazewski, a beer truck driver, who inherited a large sum of money from his mother, told police his fortune had dwindled from $800,000 to $200,000 after he turned his ...


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