Two Illinois state courts recently dismissed defamation claims related to an online article and a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the Champaign Illinois Kennel Club. Both courts found that the defendants were immunized because the statements in dispute were unactionable opinions and were protected under the innocent construction rule. See Law Office of John S. Xydakis, P.C. v. Reiland, No. 2020 L 3990 (Ill. Cir. Ct. May 18, 2021); Boyd v. Crumpler, No. 2020-L-000201 (Ill. Cir. Ct. May 20, 2021).
The first suit, Law Office of John S. Xydakis, P.C. v. Reiland, arose from an article written by Jordyn Reiland and published by the. Reiland, slip op. at 1. The report outlined Judge Margaret Ann Brennan’s remarkable imposition of a $1 million sanction against Marshall Spiegel and his lawyer, John Xydakis. Id. Judge Brennan issued the sanction pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137, which is designed to prevent and discourage the filing of frivolous and false lawsuits. Id. at 1-2. The Circuit Court of Cook County found that the legal news website could not be sued for allegedly defamatory statements that are reasonably interpreted as opinions. Id. at 1.