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03/29/96 CULT AWARENESS NETWORK v. CHURCH

March 29, 1996

CULT AWARENESS NETWORK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL, BOWLES & MOXON, AND CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Kenneth L. Gillis and Julia M. Nowicki, Judges Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Greiman delivered the opinion of the court: Rizzi, P.j., and Cerda, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greiman

The Honorable Justice GREIMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff Cult Awareness Network appeals the trial court's dismissal with prejudice of its one-count second amended complaint alleging a cause of action for conspiracy to engage in malicious prosecution against defendants Church of Scientology International, Bowles & Moxon, and Church of Scientology of Illinois.

On appeal plaintiff asserts that the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action for conspiracy to engage in malicious prosecution and that this court should consider whether the complaint states a cause of action for abuse of process even though plaintiff failed to raise such cause of action until this appeal.

We affirm the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint and find that plaintiff waived its abuse of process claim.

In January 1994 plaintiff first filed a five-count complaint against the currently named defendants and 11 individual members of the Church of Scientology. The complaint alleged (1) conspiracy to engage in malicious prosecution; (2) malicious prosecution; (3) conspiracy to interfere with right of assembly and association; (4) infringement of right of association and assembly; and (5) maintenance. After defendants filed a section 2-615 motion to dismiss (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1992)), plaintiff voluntarily withdrew its complaint.

Thereafter, on June 8, 1994, plaintiff filed a four-count first amended complaint against the same defendants named in the original complaint. Unlike the original complaint, the first amended complaint did not include a cause of action for malicious prosecution. Similar to the original complaint, however, the first amended complaint alleged (1) conspiracy to engage in malicious prosecution, (2) conspiracy to interfere with right of association and assembly, (3) infringement of right of association, and (4) maintenance. On August 4, 1994, defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-615(b) and (e). Thereafter, the trial court dismissed the first amended complaint with leave to replead only the count alleging conspiracy to commit malicious prosecution as to certain specified underlying prosecutions.

On October 24, 1994, plaintiff filed its one-count second amended complaint, which is now at issue, alleging only conspiracy to engage in malicious prosecution. Plaintiff alleged that defendants conspired with each other to file at least 24 unfounded lawsuits against plaintiff. The 24 lawsuits were filed in various State and Federal courts in six or seven jurisdictions across the United States. With only one exception, the essential claim in all the lawsuits was that plaintiff unlawfully denied access to the various complainants who were associated with scientology. The one exception was a lawsuit filed by Jonathan Nordquist in which he alleged that plaintiff had fraudulently induced him to do volunteer work for plaintiff.

On December 14, 1994, defendants filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice for failure to state a cause of action pursuant to section 2-615(b).

Following a hearing on May 10, 1995, the trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice when plaintiff informed the trial court that it did not wish to replead.

On appeal, plaintiff asserts that the requirements for a malicious prosecution claim are satisfied in the allegations in its complaint. Plaintiff primarily argues that the multiple underlying lawsuits distinguish its cause of action from cases which involved only a single underlying lawsuit.

Defendants contend that plaintiff's complaint failed to state a claim for malicious prosecution because it failed to make the required factual allegations to satisfy the favorable termination requirement and failed to allege special damages as required under Illinois law.

This court applies a de novo standard of review where a complaint is dismissed pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1992)). ( Majumdar v. Lurie, 274 Ill. App. 3d 267, 268, 653 N.E.2d 915, 210 Ill. Dec. 720 (1995).) To determine whether the plaintiff has stated a cause of action upon which relief could be granted, this court must accept as true all well-pled facts in its complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences from those facts which are favorable to the plaintiff. ( Majumdar, 274 Ill. App. 3d at 268.) This court, however, does not accept as true any conclusions of law or fact contained within the ...


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