The city of Belleville spent just more than $254,000 in legal costs in an attempt to overturn the state health board’s decision to let St. Elizabeth’s Hospital build a 144-bed replacement hospital seven miles away in O’Fallon.
The News-Democrat reported in May that the city spent nearly $165,000 on the legal fight. Since then, the city spent another $90,000, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Most of the money went to Philadelphia law firm Duane Morris LLP — $211,846. The remaining $42,764 was paid to Charles H. Foley and Associates Inc. of Springfield for consulting services.
“As the mayor of Belleville, I did what I believe I had to do in standing up for the fight of change, change we didn’t want to see,” Mayor Mark Eckert said Tuesday.
The Belleville City Council hired Mark Silberman, a partner with Duane Morris LLP, to work on a consulting basis for Belleville to try to keep St. Elizabeth’s in town. Silberman is a Chicago-based attorney with a specialization in health law.
The Illinois State Health Facilities and Services Review Board approved St. Elizabeth’s replacement hospital by an 8-0 vote April 21, 2015. Shortly thereafter, Belleville City Council members authorized Eckert to have city attorney Garrett Hoerner file an administrative review of the board’s decision in circuit court.
In January, St. Clair County Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf dismissed the city of Belleville’s lawsuit. In making his ruling, Rudolf said he couldn’t ignore case law, which dictates the city of Belleville and Eckert do not have a standing to file for judicial review in court as they are not a competing healthcare facility. That was the argument the hospital’s attorneys made to the judge during the hearing.
- April 21, 2015: Illinois State Health Facilities and Services Review Board approves construction of St. Elizabeth’s replacement hospital in O’Fallon
- May 21, 2015: City of Belleville files lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court seeking to overturn state’s approval
- June 5, 2015: O’Fallon breaks ground on construction of replacement hospital
- Jan. 14, 2016: St. Clair County Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf dismissed the city of Belleville’s lawsuit.