Hadley v. Subscriber DoeAnnotate this Case
The Freeport Journal published an online article concerning Hadley’s decision to again seek election to the Stephenson County Board. Online readers could post comments after completing a basic registration. “Fuboy” posted: “Hadley is a Sandusky waiting to be exposed. Check out the view he has [an elementary school] from his front door” and “Anybody know the tale of Hadley’s suicide attempt? ….” Hadley filed a defamation lawsuit against the Journal and its parent company. The company provided Hadley the IP address acquired from Fuboy’s internet service provider, Comcast. The federal court dismissed the suit against as barred by federal statute. Hadley returned to state court with a defamation action against Subscriber Doe a/k/a “Fuboy” and issued a subpoena to Comcast. The circuit court directed Comcast to comply and to notify the subscriber. An attorney moved to quash. The court stated that the better procedure to discover Fuboy’s identity would be Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224, under which Hadley would have the burden of setting forth allegations that would be sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss under Code of Civil Procedure 2-615, even if such a motion was not filed. The court allowed Hadley to add a count, directed at Comcast, seeking relief under Rule 224. The court concluded that count I could withstand a motion to dismiss, so Hadley was entitled to Rule 224 relief. The court found that the comment imputed the commission of a crime to Hadley; was not capable of innocent construction; and could not be considered an opinion. The court directed Comcast to provide identification. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Hadley’s complaint states facts to establish a defamation cause of action sufficient to withstand a section 2-615 motion, so the court properly concluded that necessity was established under Rule 224.