Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 99-L-1276 Honorable James W. Jerz and Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judges, Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gilleran Johnson
The defendant, counterplaintiff, and third-party plaintiff, Mary Goldman, appeals from the September 20, 2001, October 11, 2001, and January 29, 2002, orders of the circuit court of Du Page County dismissing her countercomplaint and third-party complaint pursuant to section 2--615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (the Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-- 615 (West 2000)). On appeal, Goldman argues that her countercomplaint stated valid causes of action for abuse of process and that her third-party complaint stated a valid cause of action for fraudulent misrepresentation. We affirm.
The relevant facts are as follows. The plaintiff and counterdefendant Neurosurgery and Spine Surgery, S.C. (Neurosurgery), is an Illinois corporation that operates a medical practice in Naperville. The plaintiff and counterdefendant Michael Rabin, M.D., is a neurosurgeon and a shareholder of Neurosurgery. Goldman was a patient of Dr. Rabin's partner, Gary Skaletsky, M.D. On April 25, 1999, Goldman was hospitalized at Edward Hospital in Naperville and treated by Dr. Rabin.
On December 20, 1999, Neurosurgery and Dr. Rabin filed a defamation action against Goldman, alleging defamation per se and per quod. More specifically, the plaintiffs' complaint alleged that on October 18, 1999, Goldman had called the administrative offices of Edward Hospital for the purpose of making a complaint against Dr. Rabin. In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that Goldman falsely reported that Dr. Rabin had forced his way into her hospital room on April 25, 1999, while she was undressed, that Dr. Rabin examined her with the door open, allowing people passing by to see her, and that Dr. Rabin had been dismissed from the staffs of Copley and Delnor Hospitals for similar conduct. The plaintiffs alleged that Goldman knew her statements were false and that she acted with the intent to defame Dr. Rabin and his corporation. The plaintiffs also alleged that Goldman acted with malice.
On March 6, 2001, Goldman filed a third-party complaint, naming as third-party defendants: Nancy Skaletsky, the wife of Dr. Gary Skaletsky and a nurse employed by Neurosurgery; Gregg I. Minkow, the plaintiffs' attorney; and Swarek & Associates and Hinshaw & Culbertson, law firms with which Minkow was associated. The third-party complaint alleged four counts. Count I of the third-party complaint alleged a cause of action for fraudulent misrepresentation against Nancy Skaletsky. Specifically, count I alleged in relevant part:
"20. During the summer of 1999, Nancy Skaletsky stated to Goldman that, due to incidences similar to the April 25, 1999, incident at Edward Hospital, Rabin had been dismissed from the staffs of two hospitals.
21. At the time that Nancy Skaletsky told Goldman that Rabin had been dismissed from the staffs of two hospitals, Nancy Skaletsky knew, or should have known, this statement was false.
22. Upon information and belief, Nancy Skaletsky made the false statement to Goldman for the purpose of Goldman relying upon such statement and inducing her to republish such false statement to third parties, including Edward Hospital.
23. Due to Nancy Skaletsky's employment with Neurosurgery as a nurse, Goldman had a right to rely upon Nancy Skaletsky's false statement.
24. Goldman in fact relied upon Nancy Skaletsky's false statement and republished such statement to Edward Hospital.
30. Goldman incurred legal and other costs as a result of her reliance upon Nancy Skaletsky's false representations to her.
31. Goldman suffered physical and emotional distress as a result of Nancy Skaletsky's misrepresentation."
Counts II, III, and IV of the third-party complaint alleged causes of action for abuse of process against Minkow and Swarek & Associates and Hinshaw & Culbertson.
On July 5, 2001, Goldman filed a second amended countercomplaint against Neurosurgery and Rabin. The second amended countercomplaint alleged two counts of abuse of process. Specifically, count I of the second amended countercomplaint alleged:
"38. On December 22, 1999, the Chicago Tribune published an article relating to a ...