As we previously covered here, an Illinois appellate court revived a lawsuit filed by Chicago Bears legend Richard Dent which seeks to learn the identity and addresses of unidentified individuals who published allegedly defamatory statements about Dent which allegedly cost him several lucrative marketing contracts. Following the ruling in Dent’s favor, the respondents in the case sought to challenge the First District’s ruling and requested a review of the case by the Illinois Supreme Court. Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court granted the petition for leave to appeal and will hear arguments in the case later this year.

For background, the case dates back to 2018 when energy supplier Constellation NewEnergy terminated various energy supply and marketing contracts with Dent and his company RLD Resources, LLC. Dent met with the energy company’s attorneys during which the attorneys informed Dent that the company had received complaints about him from multiple individuals accusing him of inappropriate comments and conduct at several Constellation-sponsored events. The attorneys refused to identify the complaining individuals. Shortly after the meeting, Constellation terminated its contracts with Dent.

In 2019, Dent and his company filed a verified petition for pre-suit discovery against

Constellation under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224 seeking the identity of the alleged complainants and other individuals who Dent alleged were hired by Constellation to investigate the complaints. Dent alleged that the statements by these individuals were defamatory and the individuals could be liable for damages resulting from the loss of the contracts with Constellation. In June 2019, the trial court dismissed petitioners’ Rule 224 petition with prejudice, determining sua sponte to dispose of the petition for failure to comply with Rule 224. On appeal, the First District reversed the trial court, which led to Constellation’s petition for leave to appeal.

Pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 315, following the allowance of leave to appeal, the appellants in the case, Constellation NewEnergy, Inc., CNE Gas Supply, LLC, Constellation Energy Gas, Choice, LLC, and Constellation New Energy-Gas Division, LLC, have two weeks to file their brief in support or notify the clerk of the Supreme Court of their election to allow their petition for leave to appeal to stand as the brief of appellants.

Under Illinois law, not all civil cases are appealable to the Supreme Court as a matter of right. Instead, appellants must petition the Illinois Supreme Court for leave to appeal the case within 35 days after the entry of the judgment for which review is sought. A petition for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court from the Appellate Court may be filed by any party, including the State.

Whether such a petition will be granted is a matter of sound judicial discretion. In deciding whether to grant a petition for leave to appeal the Supreme Court will consider several factors identified in Rule 315, none of which is controlling and the list of which is not exhaustive. Included in these factors considered by the Court are (1) the general importance of the question presented; (2) the existence of a conflict between the decision sought to be reviewed and a decision of the Supreme Court, or of another division of the Appellate Court; (3) the need for the exercise of the Supreme Court’s supervisory authority; and (4) the final or interlocutory character of the judgment sought to be reviewed. Following receipt of a petition for leave to appeal the Supreme Court will issue a short order granting or denying the petition.

The parties’ briefs relating to the Court’s order granting the petition for leave to appeal can be found here and here.

Our Chicago and Elmhurst defamation attorneys represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and offline media throughout Cook and the surrounding counties including DuPage, Kane, Lake, Will, and McHenry counties. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating websites in order to publish defamatory content about our business clients. Beyond slander and libel law, our Chicago and Cook County First Amendment and commercial disparagement lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. We serve clients throughout Illinois and the Chicagoland area. You can call us on our toll-free number at 833-306-4933 or locally at 630-333-0333 or contact us online.