Hylla takes summary judgment moves in abortion battery suit under advisement

Amelia Flood May 23, 2011, 3:16am


Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla took summary judgment moves in a case brought against a Granite City women's clinic and its staff under advisement, although he told defense attorneys on Friday morning that he believed they had "a pretty good case."

"The likelihood of this plaintiff getting a verdict from a jury – if I were in the prediction business – would be slim," Hylla said.

That said, the judge told attorneys he was there to rule on the matter of what consent plaintiff Brandy Hildreth may have given Dr. Lisa Memmel to perform a 2008 abortion.

Hildreth is suing Memmel, the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, and the clinic's staff for damages in excess of $1 million in damages and other relief.

Hildreth claims that she did not consent to Memmel, a resident with the University of Chicago Medical Center, performing the abortion.

The defendants have moved to dismiss the case.

All parties in the suit moved for summary judgment.

In her move, Hildreth cites a contract that specifies that Memmel was not an employee of the clinic.

She alleges she consented to be treated by a "Hope Clinic physician," and that Memmel did not qualify as such.

The defendants have moved for summary judgment on claims that Memmel was, in function, a Hope Clinic employee and that Hildreth consented to the procedure before and during it.

Hylla questioned Memmel's attorney John Leskera at length about the consent issue Friday morning.

"Dr. Memmel had nothing to do with this consent issue," Leskera told the judge.

Hylla remained skeptical.

"I'm not going to grant summary judgment based on something she [Hildreth] did while under sedation," the judge said. "She did not consent to an abortion performed by a homeless person off the street. She consented to an abortion by a Hope Clinic physician."

Hylla did question whether the plaintiff could sue the clinic if they were alleging Memmel was not one of its employees.

Hylla expressed his doubts about whether that would be a viable argument.

The judge told the parties he would consider the issue and make his ruling.

Hylla also canceled the suit's June 20 trial date, pushing it back to Oct. 31.

Ethan Skaggs and Rhonda Fiss represent Hildreth.

Mark Levy and others represent the clinic and staffers Sally Burgess, Clara Dixon, Debra Weihardt, Anne Baker, Denise Caldwell, Dr. Allen Palmer, and Dr. Melissa Gilliam.

Leskera represents Memmel and the University of Chicago.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-343.

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