Illinois Supreme Court blocks hospital from suspending services

The future of Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., is in limbo after a series of back-and-forth court rulings on April 18.

The legal fight began after Westlake Hospital's owner, Los Angeles-based Pipeline Health, suspended services at the hospital on April 9. The village of Melrose Park requested a temporary restraining order to prevent Pipeline from immediately ending services at the hospital, and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Eve Reilly granted that request.

Despite the court order, Pipeline reportedly continued to lay off hospital employees and haul medical equipment off site. The village of Melrose Park filed an emergency motion asking for Pipeline to be held in contempt of court for allegedly disregarding the temporary restraining order, which barred Pipeline from closing the hospital, cutting services or laying off workers until May 1.

Earlier this week, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Moshe Jacobius found Pipeline in contempt of the temporary restraining order. He ordered Pipeline to restore services at Westlake Hospital by April 18 or face a fine of $200,000 a day.

The case took another turn on April 18, when an Illinois Appellate Court panel threw out the temporary restraining order against Pipeline. The three-judge panel said the village of Melrose Park had no standing to seek the action. Hours later, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the TRO, preventing Pipeline from suspending services at the hospital while Melrose Park leaders file an appeal, according to CBS Chicago.

As they prepare to head back to court, both sides are confident they will prevail.

"We believe when the entire Illinois Supreme Court reviews the case, it will agree with today's earlier decision: The Village of Melrose Park has no standing," Pipeline CEO Jim Edwards said in an April 18 statement to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Regarding the legal battle, Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico issued the following statement to the Chicago Sun-Times: "The people of Melrose Park will not allow Pipeline Health to trample on us. Pipeline thinks that the law doesn't apply to them but it does. We'll do everything we can to hold them accountable."

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