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Brooks v. Daley

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

March 18, 2015

JOHN W. BROOKS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
RICHARD M. DALEY and RAYMOND OROZCO, Defendants-Appellees

Page 1109

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1110

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. No. 12 L 1895. Honorable James O'Hara, Judge Presiding.

For Appellant: Brian R. Holman, Dennis, H. Stefanowicz, Jr., Tara Beth Davis, of counsel, Holman & Stefanowicz, LLC, Chicago, IL.

For Appellee: Stephen R. Patton, Benna Ruth Solomon, Myriam Zreczny Kasper, Kerrie Maloney Laytin, of counsel, Corporation Counsel of the City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Pucinski and Justice Hyman concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 1111

MASON, JUSTICE.

[¶1] Plaintiff John Brooks, the former fire commissioner of the city of Chicago, brought this suit against defendants Richard Daley, the former mayor of the city of Chicago, and Raymond Orozco, Daley's former chief of staff, seeking damages in connection with Brooks' resignation as fire commissioner in 2010. Brooks alleged that ever since he was appointed as fire commissioner in 2008, Daley wanted to oust Brooks and replace him with Daley's preferred candidate for the position. To that end, when a fire department employee made allegations of sexual harassment against Brooks in 2010, defendants allegedly forced Brooks to resign before an official investigation could clear Brooks' name. Brooks sought damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and tortious interference with an advantageous business relationship.

[¶2] The trial court dismissed Brooks' complaint, finding that defendants were immune from suit under section 2-201 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/2-201 (West 2012)), which immunizes public employees " serving in a position involving the determination of policy or the exercise of discretion" for their actions " in determining policy when acting in the exercise of such discretion." Brooks appeals, arguing that immunity does not apply where defendants' actions were unauthorized and outside the scope of their employment. Finding no error, we affirm.

[¶3] BACKGROUND

[¶4] The trial court dismissed Brooks' original and amended complaints with leave to replead. At issue in this appeal is Brooks' second amended complaint, which the trial court dismissed with prejudice.

[¶5] According to the second amended complaint, Brooks started work with the Chicago fire department in 1980 and rose through the ranks over time to become first deputy fire commissioner. In July 2008, the position of fire commissioner became vacant. Daley, who was then mayor of Chicago, was faced with the task of recommending a new fire commissioner. The complaint alleges that, as the first deputy fire commissioner, Brooks was the expected and likely candidate to take over the position, and it would have been " politically incorrect" for Daley not to recommend Brooks for the position. Brooks was allegedly advised by Orozco that Daley wanted to recommend another individual, Robert Hoff, instead of Brooks, but Orozco convinced Daley to change his mind based upon the " severe political backlash" that would follow such a recommendation. Thus, in July 2008, Daley recommended that Brooks be appointed to the position of fire commissioner. This recommendation had to be and was approved by the city council. The complaint concedes that as fire commissioner, Brooks was an at-will employee.

[¶6] According to the complaint, Orozco warned Brooks that he needed to watch himself and conduct himself appropriately at all times, because Daley would be looking for any possible reason to remove him

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and replace him with Hoff. Brooks heeded this warning and alleged that he performed his duties " in a professional and outstanding manner, never receiving any negative comments about his performance as Fire Commissioner and never providing [Daley] any basis to seek his removal."

[¶7] In March 2010, a female fire department employee raised allegations of sexual harassment against Brooks. Orozco allegedly informed Brooks that he was being placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. Meanwhile, pursuant to the city's sexual harassment policy, the city hired an outside ...


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