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Hartlep v. Torres

August 29, 2001

BRIAN HARTLEP PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
DAVID TORRES, CHIEF OF POLICE OF POSEN, ILLINOIS DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson

UNPUBLISHED

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable David R. Donnersberger, Judge Presiding

Plaintiff Brian Hartlep brought this suit for slander against defendant David Torres, Chief of Police of the Village of Posen, Illinois, alleging Torres made defamatory statements when he characterized Hartlep "as being not trustworthy, and not re-employable." Because Torres spoke the allegedly defamatory words while testifying at a disciplinary hearing before the Village of Glenwood Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (BFPC), the trial court found the statements were absolutely privileged. The trial court then granted Torres' section 2-619 motion to dismiss Hartlep's complaint. See 735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 1998). We affirm.

FACTS

On April 7, 1999, Torres testified before the Glenwood BFPC in a disciplinary hearing involving Hartlep:

Q: What was your experience with Brian [Hartlep] as a police officer?

A: In terms of?

Q: His performance?

A: Well, my personal experience with Mr. Hartlep was -

MR. MCGUIRE [plaintiff's counsel]; Objection; relevance and materiality as to performance. We're not here for the generalization. We should get to the specifics which, unfortunately, the Board wants to get to.

MR. BROIHIER [BFPC counsel]; You indicated there was a difficulty with his employment at Posen; why don't we go to that.

Torres then testified that while Hartlep was working as a probationary police officer for the Village of Posen, he "made a pass at a female driver who was stopped by Officer Hartlep on a traffic incident, and that he had given his business card to this young lady with his home telephone number." According to Torres, Hartlep was "in violation of our rules and regulations pertaining to his conduct and ethics * * *." When asked if Torres would re-employ Hartlep, Torres said, "No, I would not."

Torres' testimony was inconsistent, however, with a statement filed by the Village of Posen with the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The statement indicated that although Hartlep had once been suspended, he was ...


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