United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ROBERT BLAKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Glocoms Group sued Defendant Center for Public Integrity
(CPI) after CPI published an article about Glocoms'
consulting work for the U.S. government and foreign
governments. Glocoms alleges that the article contained false
statements that damaged its reputation. CPI moved to dismiss
all claims. For the reasons explained below, this Court
grants that motion.
The Complaint's Allegations
2000, Glocoms has done consulting work for both U.S. and
foreign government agencies.  ¶ 1. Maurence Anguh is
Glocoms' sole shareholder. Id. ¶ 6. CPI
publishes news to the general public through its website.
Id. ¶ 3.
September 2016, CPI published an article about Glocoms
entitled: “A Trail of Contracting Fiascos: How a
Company Using a Rented Mailbox in Chicago Got Millions of
Dollars from International Agencies and the U.S. Government,
Despite Official Allegations of Lying and Repeated
Sanctions.” [33-2] at 15-18. The article's authors
included one graduate student and three undergraduate
students.  ¶ 11. The article stated, among other
things, that the World Bank debarred Glocoms in 2010 from
working on Bank-funded projects, but that Glocoms still
received millions of dollars in contracts from U.S. agencies
after the debarment. [33-2] at 15-18.
contends that the article contains numerous false statements
that hurt its “good reputation for honesty and
truthfulness” in its industry. See  ¶
8 (identifying ten allegedly false statements: 8(a)-(j)).
Glocoms also contends that CPI acted recklessly or
negligently in publishing the allegedly false statements.
Id. ¶ 9. Glocoms demanded a written retraction
from CPI in October 2016, but CPI refused to issue a
retraction. Id. ¶ 16. Glocoms sued CPI in
September 2017. .
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must provide a “short
and plain statement of the claim” showing that the
pleader merits relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), so the defendant
has “fair notice” of the claim “and the
grounds upon which it rests, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint must also
contain “sufficient factual matter” to state a
facially plausible claim to relief-one that “allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference” that the
defendant committed the alleged misconduct. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). This plausibility
standard “asks for more than a sheer possibility”
that a defendant acted unlawfully. Williamson v.
Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).
evaluating a complaint, this Court accepts all well-pled
allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in
the plaintiff's favor. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
This Court does not, however, accept a complaint's legal
conclusions as true. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574,
581 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 12(b)(6) limits this Court to
considering the complaint, documents attached to the
complaint, documents central to the complaint (to which the
complaint refers), and information properly subject to
judicial notice. Williamson, 714 F.3d at 436.
seeks to dismiss Glocoms' claims on three alternative
grounds: (1) the Illinois Citizen Participation Act (ICPA),
735 ILCS 110/1 et seq., bars Plaintiff's suit;
(2) the fair report privilege protects CPI; and (3) Glocoms
fails to plead that CPI acted with actual malice or even
negligence.  at 4. This Court addresses each argument in
ICPA bars “strategic lawsuits against public
participation, ” or SLAPPs. Sandholm v.
Kuecker, 962 N.E.2d 418, 427 (Ill. 2012). By definition,
SLAPPs have no merit because the plaintiff does “not
intend to win but rather to chill a defendant's speech or
protest activity” through “delay, expense, and
distraction.” Id. CPI argues that this suit
qualifies as a prohibited SLAPP.  at 4.
courts employ a three-step analysis for identifying SLAPPs
subject to dismissal under the Act: (1) the defendant acted
in furtherance of its “right to petition, speak,
associate, or otherwise participate in government to obtain
favorable government action”; (2) the plaintiff's
claims are “solely based on, related to, or in
response to” the defendant's acts in furtherance of
its constitutional rights; and (3) the plaintiff cannot
produce clear and convincing evidence that the defendant did
not genuinely and solely aim to procure “favorable
government action.” Chi. Reg'l Council of
Carpenters v. Jursich, 986 N.E.2d 197, 201 (Ill.App.Ct.
2013) (emphasis added) (citing Sandholm, 962 N.E.2d