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03/29/89 Parrillo, Weiss & Moss, v. John Bernard Cashion

March 29, 1989

PARRILLO, WEISS & MOSS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

JOHN BERNARD CASHION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

537 N.E.2d 851, 181 Ill. App. 3d 920, 130 Ill. Dec. 522 1989.IL.420

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Willard J. Lassers, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA and RIZZI, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WHITE

Plaintiff, Parrillo, Weiss & Moss, a law firm, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing its complaint at law with prejudice. We affirm.

The complaint at law (hereinafter the Complaint), is in two counts. In count I, plaintiff alleged that defendant, John Bernard Cashion, is the president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. On or about February 18, 1987, defendant composed and sent a letter to the Director of the Department of Insurance of the State of Illinois. Plaintiff alleged that this letter contained false and defamatory statements concerning plaintiff. In particular, plaintiff alleged that the letter contained the following statements:

"(1) [plaintiff] has a stake in maintaining the volume of suits it defends;

(2) [plaintiff's] manner of defending lawsuits constitutes a blatant and ongoing scandal;

(3) as of January 26, 1987 there were 4,166 cases pending in the Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County in which the defense attorney listed was Parrillo, Weiss & Moss; and

(4) [plaintiff] is house counsel for Safeway Insurance Company.", Plaintiff alleged that it has been injured in its good name and reputation and sought damages in excess of $15,000.

In count II of the Complaint, plaintiff restated the allegations in count I. In addition, plaintiff alleged that the defamatory statements were made with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity and with malice. Plaintiff sought punitive damages in the amount of $1 million.

Prior to discussing the sufficiency of the Complaint, it will be helpful to discuss the principles that apply to a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff's Complaint was dismissed pursuant to a motion filed under section 2-615 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-615). Such a motion admits all well-pleaded facts in the complaint, and they must be taken as true. (Payne v. Mill Race Inn (1987), 152 Ill. App. 3d 269, 273, 504 N.E.2d 193; Perlin v. Board of Education (1980), 86 Ill. App. 3d 108, 111, 407 N.E.2d 792.) Conclusions of law or Conclusions of fact unsupported by allegations of specific fact are not admitted. (Payne, 152 Ill. App. 3d at 273; Yardley v. Yardley (1985), 137 Ill. App. 3d 747, 751, 484 N.E.2d 873.) The complaint should not be dismissed unless the pleadings disclose that no set of facts could be proved that would entitle the plaintiff to relief. (Yardley, 137 Ill. App. 3d at 752; Richardson v. Dunbar (1981), 95 Ill. App. 3d 254, 256, 419 N.E.2d 1205.) On review, the allegations of the complaint are to be interpreted in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. (Richardson, 95 Ill. App. 3d at 256; Perlin, 86 Ill. App. 3d at 111.) With these principles in mind, we turn to the allegations of the Complaint filed by plaintiff.

Plaintiff asserts that the statements published by defendant in the letter to the Department of Insurance impute a dishonest or improper practice to plaintiff in the performance of its duties as a law firm. Consequently, plaintiff maintains that counts I and II of the ...


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