The First District Illinois Appellate Court recently overturned a Cook County Circuit Court’s dismissal of a company’s defamation suit against a competitor. In its ruling, the Court held that a Chicago shipping company can claim it was defamed by emails sent to its management disparaging the company. Having cleared the hurdle of establishing a viable claim, the plaintiff company will now need to establish that it suffered reputational damage.
The allegations in this defamation suit stem from a series of anonymous emails sent in May 2019 to various board members and at least one executive of the plaintiff, project44, Inc. The complaint alleges that these emails purported to warn the project44 board members and executive of accounting fraud at project44 and connections to Chicago organized crime. Project44 allegedly was able to trace the email messages to computers used by a competitor, FourKites. Following receipt of the emails and its investigation into their source, project44 filed a commercial defamation suit against FourKites and several unknown FourKites employees.
In response, FourKites sought dismissal of the suit arguing that project44 could not sustain a defamation claim because project44 could not establish that the allegedly defamatory statements were published to any third parties. FourKites argued that no publication occurred because the emails were essentially sent to project44 itself and not to a third party. The trial court agreed with FourKites and dismissed the suit. Continue reading ›