Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon.
Roger Scrivner, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE HARRISON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff Robert Weinel appeals from an order of the circuit court of St. Clair County granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Capital Cities Media, Inc. Plaintiff's complaint alleged that defendant had libeled plaintiff by publishing certain false statements, "knowingly and maliciously, and with a reckless disregard for the truth * * * for the apparent purpose of notoriety and the financial gain derived thereby." The allegedly libelous statements appeared in the following article in the March 24, 1981, edition of the Belleville News Democrat:
O'FALLON O'Fallon Township Supervisor candidate Darius Monken says he, not incumbent supervisor Clete Schau can find a way to build a water system for rural township residents.
Monken said he could improve the relationship between the city of O'Fallon and the township and work towards reaching an agreement for a water supply.
And Monken has criticized Schau for what he called a `professional trick' on the part of an engineering firm hired by the township to design a water system for rural areas.
According to Monken, the engineering firm Weinel & Co. Surveyers [sic] and Planners of O'Fallon were to be paid for design work only if grant money was approved for the water line project. But the township in December paid the company $15,000 for the water line plan, even though no funding for the project has been received.
During an interview last week, Monken produced a letter from the company that proposed the company receive payment for its work `only if grant money for the project is received.'
`It was a professional trick,' Monken said relating to a long-time relationship between Schau and Weinel Co. Schau has been employed in the past by the company, Monken said.
`There's no truth in that,' Schau said.
Joan Weinel of Weinel Co. said that Monken has also worked for the company in the past.
Schau said the township was advised by its attorney that the contract with Weinel was binding, and the firm had ...