A former head of Chicago’s zoning inspectors, who said he
was fired after city lawyers “defamed” him for alleging he accepted a bribe, won’t
get another chance to pursue his legal action against the city over his
The Illinois First District Appellate Court, in an
unpublished order, upheld the decision of Cook County Circuit Judge Patrick J.
Sherlock, who dismissed the complaint of John J. Quinn, and then denied his
motion to reconsider.
Justice Margaret McBride wrote the order; Justices David Ellis
and Cynthia Y. Cobbs concurred. The order was issued under Supreme Court Rule
23, which restricts its use as precedent, except under very limited
circumstances permitted by the Supreme Court rule.
Quinn filed a civil suit against the city saying it fired
him based on defamation on the part of three municipal attorneys who accused
him of accepting a bribe “to reinstate a controversial building permits which
had been revoked as nonconforming to the local building code,” per McBride’s
In addition to the city, named defendants in Quinn’s suit
are the attorneys, Andrew Mine, Mardell Nereim and Andrew Worseck. In
responding to Quinn’s appeal, they contended he failed to “specify to whom and
under what circumstances the purported false statements were made,” that he had
ample opportunities to replead, that he didn’t pursue discovery and that we was
presenting arguments for the first time during the appeal.
Per Quinn’s complaint, the root issue stems to the 2004
development of a residential condominium, Morgan Place of Chicago, in an area
zoned for manufacturing. After neighboring property owners complained, the city
investigated and suspended the building permit. Nereim advised the city to
negotiate reinstatement of the permit, Quinn said, noting he was charged with
leading that process because of his relationship with the condo’s owner, Jerry
That negotiation and reinstatement happened in January 2005.
But a summer trip that year to Brazil, “for a trade show and to sight see,”
ultimately led to Quinn losing his job, though he contends the trip was above
board and had no connection to the Morgan Place permit. In the wake of his
termination, Quinn sued the city and the lawyers, alleging they improperly
connected the trip to the permit and cost him his job. He implied Mine and
Worseck wrote and said these comments to third parties outside of legal
McBride detailed a lengthy history of Quinn’s litigation
against the city, including his failure to comply with various deadlines for
appeals and responses. Although the appellate court ultimately agreed to
consider Quinn’s appeal of Sherlock’s decision, it determined the complaint “relies
on his subjective conclusions and paraphrasing of the elements of a defamation
claim rather than objective and sufficient factual statements depicting
The appellate judges said Quinn failed to develop specific
arguments supporting his defamation claims — per se and per quod — including
any evidence of the remarks he said led to his termination or the audience of
said remarks. Quinn argued he was entitled to a chance to depose the attorneys,
but McBride wrote the record shows he was granted leave to do so but failed to
meet a 60-day deadline, “one of many scheduling orders he disregarded.”
Quinn’s suggestion for how Sherlock should have ruled,
McBride added, “is not how our adversarial legal
system works. Furthermore, none of the cases Quinn cites remotely supports his
argument. … He is asking this court of review to reverse the judge’s ruling on
grounds which the judge was never asked to consider.”
The appellate court affirmed Sherlock’s
dismissal of Quinn’s second amended complaint and the denial of his motion to
reconsider and vacate that order.
Quinn was represented in the action
by the Nathanson Law Firm, of Chicago.
The city defendants were represented
by the city of Chicago’s corporation counsel.