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Salamone v. Hollinger International

March 30, 2004

[5] JOSEPH SALAMONE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
HOLLINGER INTERNATIONAL, INC.; CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, INC.; CHRIS FUSCO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AGENT OF CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, INC. AND HOLLINGER INTERNATIONAL, INC., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 01 L 7531 Honorable Kathy M. Flanagan, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cahill

[8]  The dispute in this case arose from a news article published in the Chicago Sun-Times on March 7, 2001, headlined Mob links hurt Rosemont casino bid. Plaintiff Joseph Salamone, who was referred to in the article as a "reputed organized crime figure," filed a defamation and false light invasion of privacy action against Chris Fusco, Chicago Sun-Times, Inc., and Hollinger International, Inc. The trial court dismissed the action under section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2000)). We affirm.

[9]  Here, in full, is the article on which the complaint is based:

[10]   "Mob links hurt Rosemont casino bid

[11]  
The Illinois Gaming Board Tuesday released more than a dozen pages of reasons for revoking Emerald Casino's state gambling license and denying its request to open a Rosemont gambling barge.
[12]  
Mob ties, lies by company executives and a decision to begin building the Rosemont casino without gaming-board approval all were cited in two legal orders from the board.
[13]  
Their release set off what could be a long battle in the northwest suburb. Emerald is denying the board's allegations and plans to file an appeal, which it must do by the end of business Tuesday.
[14]  
'The company disagrees with the preliminary findings and intends to file its response,' Emerald [p]resident Kevin Larson said in a news release. Emerald officials declined to comment further.
[15]  
The company, the board said, failed to conduct a proper investigation before allowing a trust held by Sherri Boscarino, wife of reputed mobster, Nick Boscarino, to get a stake in the planned casino. Joseph Salamone, another reputed organized crime figure, was another investor.
[16]  
Gaming Board investors also learned that one of the subcontractors working on the casino site was D&P Construction. The owner of that company, Josephine DiFronzo, is married to Peter DiFronzo and is the sister-in-law of John DiFronzo, both of whom have been connected to the mob, according to the gaming board.
[17]  
Emerald's decision to hammer out an agreement with Rosemont to begin construction compromised its financial integrity and business practices, the board ruled. Emerald already has spent $25 million on the project.
[18]  
The board also cited misleading statements by principal owners Kevin Flynn and his father, Donald, regarding the selection of Rosemont as a site." (Emphasis added.) Chris Fusco, Mob links hurt Rosemont casino bid, Chicago Sun-Times, March 7, 2001, at NP 27.

[19]   Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint on January 11, 2002, alleging defamation per se, defamation per quod and false light invasion of privacy against all three defendants. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint under section 2-615 of the Code for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. The trial court granted the motion, finding that the phrase "reputed organized crime figure" was vague and capable of an innocent construction.

[20]   A dismissal under section 2-615 of the Code is reviewed de novo. Brandt v. Boston Scientific Corp., 204 Ill. 2d 640, 644-45, 792 N.E.2d 296 (2003). When ruling on a section 2-615 motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all well-pled facts in the complaint and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom. Bryson v. News America Publications, Inc., 174 Ill. 2d 77, 86, 672 N.E.2d 1207 (1996). If, after viewing the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the ...


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