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Heyl Royster

 

Practices

PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY

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Medical Malpractice Litigation 

Heyl Royster has been a premier professional liability defense law firm in Illinois for decades. The firm name is synonymous with successful medical malpractice decisions from trial and appellate courts throughout the state. Our clients include private physicians, medical groups, medical colleges, hospitals, medical centers, nurses and dentists.  

Our statewide offices have extensive involvement in defending medical malpractice and allied professional liability claims. As a result we have developed contacts with excellent expert witnesses and consultants to assist in the evaluation and trial of cases. Our lawyers are focused on the timely assessment and disposition of claims or lawsuits when that is advisable. However, the extensive trial experience and record of successful verdicts by our lawyers is evidence of our commitment to defending our clients when a verdict is preferable to settlement.  

We encourage our client physicians to work closely with our trial attorneys and expert witnesses in a partnership that develops a solid defense strategy. This philosophy has allowed us to be a leader in the field of defending medical professionals. Our caseload volume not only gives us depth and experience, but efficiency as well. 

Our appellate department is one of the most active in the state. It handles appeals not only from our trial attorneys but also from other firms and clients who retain us. The attorneys in our appellate department have handled numerous professional liability cases of significant precedential importance in Illinois, such as Witherell v. Weimer, 113 Ill. 2d 586 (1987), Fawcett v. Reinertsen, 131 Ill. 2d 380 (1989), Owens v. Stokoe, 115 Ill. 2d 177 (1986), Roach v. Springfield Clinic, 157 Ill. 2d 29 (1993), and Renslow v. Mennonite Hospital, 67 Ill. 2d 348 (1977), to name a few.  

Our firm's long history in the defense of medical malpractice claims has permitted us to develop a cadre of premier trial attorneys with an unmatched record of success. They recognize the unique character of medical malpractice cases and stand ready to assist physicians and other professionals who find themselves involved with litigation.  

Our primary goal is always client satisfaction, as it has been for more than 100 years.


Legal Malpractice Litigation   

Heyl Royster has defended Illinois attorneys for six decades in many significant matters, which have resulted in Illinois Supreme Court decisions beneficially affecting the climate for practicing law in Illinois in cases such as Cripe v. Leiter, 175 Ill. 2d 525 (1997), McLane v. Russell, 131 Ill. 2d 509 (1989), and York v. Stiefel, 99 Ill. 2d 312 (1983). Our seasoned trial attorneys have defended these actions from service of process to final remand. Our Appellate Department is experienced at defending legal malpractice actions at every level of appeal with good results.  

Heyl Royster also has a long history of representing attorneys before the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Illinois Supreme Court. Our approach is simple, we treat every one of these matters as the most important matter we will ever handle.  


Accountant and Realtor Malpractice    

Heyl Royster has the legal expertise, staff, and resources to successfully handle complicated and voluminous accountant malpractice cases.  

Heyl Royster has successfully defended real estate brokers against many diverse claims arising out of the sale of real estate. Our Real Estate Practice Group provides excellent technical support for our Professional Liability Litigators handling real estate claims. Few things are so precious to a realtor as his or her reputation. We understand that, and painstakingly prepare the defense of such claims for a successful outcome. 


Design Professionals Litigation

Heyl Royster has represented design professionals in the multitude of claims with which those entities can be involved, including personal injury claims under the former Illinois Structural Work Act as well as the current Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 414 and 343, Construction and Design Defect Claims for Roofs, Curtain Walls, Window and Door Design and Construction, EIFS claims, HVAC systems, etc. We have defended design professionals in claims involving the design of jails, prisons, hospitals, performing arts centers, factories, and manufacturing facilities, sports stadiums, as well as residential and condominium developments.

Heyl Royster understands the unique requirements of representing a design professional in a legal setting and has developed the expertise to work with design professionals in their own element, i.e., examining the concept from the beginning until execution, including contract development, drawings, bidding, construction administration, change orders, punch lists, and termination of the project. We have represented design professionals as designers, construction managers, design builders, and consultants.

Our experience, not only with courtroom litigation, but with arbitration and mediation (as both advocates and arbitrators or mediators), gives Heyl Royster the perspective and experience to develop the best strategy for reaching a just and economical result for our clients.

Representative Clients

American Physicians Assurance

Carle Clinic

CNA

Galesburg Cottage Hospital

ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company

Illinois Provider Trust 

The Medical Protective Company

ProAssurance

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

UnityPoint Health – Methodist

Significant Cases

  • Stephenson v. O, M.D. Defense verdict in federal civil rights case involving back surgery.
  • Magurany v. S Defense verdict in rear end collision resulting in partial paralysis and brain damage.
  • Mondragon v. K.A., M.D. Defense verdict in favor of colorectal surgeon, where plaintiff developed severe incontinence following hemorrhoidectomy and sphincterotomy. Plaintiff alleged that incontinence was caused by an unnecessary sphincterotomy, and that informed consent was not provided for the sphincterotomy because it was not contained within the consent to treatment.
  • Jordan v. Maloney Defense verdict in professional liability and fraud case against home inspector and realtor.
  • Gill v. Aquino, MD (1993) - The plaintiff underwent abdominal surgery in Springfield and was discharged. Not feeling better, he sought care with Dr. Aquino, his family physician and our client. He ultimately had a significant complication that required extensive corrective abdominal surgery. The case went to a jury trial, which found that Dr. Aquino’s delay in sending the plaintiff back to his original surgeon for follow up was the proximate cause of his injuries. The plaintiff was awarded $55,000 and found to be 50% at fault for not going back to his surgeon on his own accord. The original surgeon and hospital settled before trial for $35,000, therefore the net verdict against the doctor was less than the setoff and the doctor owed nothing on the award. The verdict and comparative fault decisions were upheld by the fourth district appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court.
  • Adkins v. Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center (1989) - A physician had his hospital privileges suspended in part and not renewed in part. The Illinois Supreme Court found that the suspension of the physician was proper because the physician had notice of the claims against him and the hospital committee took action that it was authorized to take under the hospital bylaws. The Illinois Supreme Court also found that the hospital did not properly follow its bylaws when it denied the application for privileges renewal, however, that issue was rendered moot because of the proper imposition of the summary suspension.
  • Tobias v. W 156 Ill.App.3d 886 (1987)
  • Dunavan v. C 167 Ill.App.3d 952 (1988)
  • Cramsey v. K 191 Ill.App.3d 756 (1989)
  • Engel v. St. Mary's 198 Ill.App.3d 174 (1990)
  • Garland v. K 209 Ill.App.3d 30 (1991)
  • Daly v. C 210 Ill.App.3d 19 (1991)
  • Hitt v. S 285 Ill.App.3d 713 (1996)
  • Warren v. B 325 Ill.App.3d 599 (2001)
  • Cothren v. T 356 Ill.App.3d 279 (2005)
  • Downey v. D 384 Ill.App.3d 350 (2008)
  • Balding v. T 2013 IL App 121030-U
  • Obtained directed verdict in jury trial on behalf of general surgeon who was alleged to have improperly operated on a patient suffering from apparent bile leak and associated symptoms caused by a retained gallbladder following cholecystectomy performed by another surgeon.
  • Marsh v. KCC – Circuit Court of Knox County, Illinois - Medical malpractice action alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat diabetes. Obtained summary judgement for defendant medical clinic and defendant hospital.
  • Likes v. GCH – Circuit Court of Knox County, Illinois - Medical malpractice action alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat cauda equina syndrome. Obtained summary judgement for defendant hospital.
  • Hunter v. Amin No. 07-00296, USDC-SDIL (Oct. 30, 2009) Summary judgment for defendant physician on claims of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
  • Avichail v. Jones 686 F.3d 548 (8th Cir. 2012), Not guilty verdict for a pediatric nurse in a case of a claimed brain injury following a period of depressed oxygen saturation levels. It was contended that the nurse failed to continuously monitor oxygen saturation values as ordered by the attending surgeon and that as a result, plaintiff sustained a brain injury affecting cognition and behavior. Verdict affirmed on appeal by Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Wilson v. S__ 403 Ill. App. 3d 688 (4th Cir. 2009) On petition for rehearing, court modified its opinion and found that claims against the defendant did not relate back and were therefore barred by the statute of limitations.
  • Helfers-Beitz v. Degleman 406 Ill. App. 3d 264, 939 N.E.2d 1087 (3d Dist. 2010) Hospital not responsible for physician's acts of sexual misconduct nor for negligent hiring, credentialing or retention where hospital made reasonable inquiry.
  • Rupe v. Dr. X Jury Trial, Peoria County. Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Action. The decedent was an otherwise healthy 66-year-old male who had entered the hospital for an elective left knee arthroplasty. On the first post-operative day, the patient's blood profile returned a serum sodium level that was slightly low. Less than 24 hours later, the patient developed a significant confusion and the defendant doctor gave a verbal telephone order to stop the narcotic medication, but he did not order any electrolyte testing. Thereafter the patient suffered a seizure, vomited, and went into cardiac arrest. A Code Blue was called, during which the serum sodium level was found to be 120, a significant hyponatremia. Plaintiff alleged that the patient died as a result of a hyponatremic seizure and defendant doctor was negligent for not having conducted appropriate follow-up testing. The decedent left a widow and two adult children, in their early to mid-40's at the time of his death. Plaintiff asked the jury for $950,000.00 for loss of society and relations for the widow and $250,000.00 each for loss of society for the two children. Result: Not guilty.
  • Gulley v. F, M.D. Defense verdict in malpractice case involving intra-cranial abscess.
  • Cripe v. Leiter 184 Ill. 2d 185 (1998) In a case of first impression, the Illinois Supreme Court held that Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act did not apply to claim that attorney charged excessive fees.
  • Fawcett v. Reinertsen 131 Ill. 2d 380 (1989) Extent of allowable questioning of a defendant physician.
  • Witherell v. Weimer 85 Ill. 2d 146 (1981) Estoppel to assert statute of limitations based upon ongoing treatment with defendant physicians; also allowed testimony of pharmacist on a physician duty of care in prescribing medications.
  • Case v. Galesburg Cottage Hospital 227 Ill. 2d 207 (2007) Time that elapses between voluntary dismissal of a plaintiff's complaint and its refiling pursuant to the limitation saving statute is not to be considered by a court when ruling on a motion to dismiss based on plaintiff's failure to exercise reasonable diligence to obtain service.
  • Woodard v. E.T., M.D. Successfully defended an obstetrician in cerebral palsy/catastrophic injury case in which damages were assessed against co-defendant in excess of $35 million.
  • Lee v. E.R., M.D. Wrongful death defense verdict in retained sponge in heart of 38 year-old policeman. 
  • Binegar v. F.G., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of 38 year-old during cardiac rehab. 
  • Heinemeier v. J.S., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of 53 year-old mother post gastric bypass surgery.
  • Pemble v. R.G., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of father of 4 from bowel infarction and ischemic mesenteric artery post lap cholecystectomy. 
  • Marcin v. Kipfer 117 Ill. App. 3d 1065 Appellate Court reversed defense verdict holding former patient could not sit as juror.
  • Zinser v. Rose 245 Ill. App. 3d 881 (3d Dist. 1993) A group of chiropractors brought RICO counts against chiropractic review service alleging only indirect injury from damage to reputation, good will and income from patient's insurer's refusals to pay indemnities to patients; RICO complaint dismissed as it did not specify time and place of use of mail or telephone to defraud, gave only general reference to parties to whom fraudulent communications were directed, and failed to allege any cancellations of chiropractors' services or patient refusals to pay bills as result of review service's activity. Plaintiff chiropractors could sustain causes of action under both Consumer Fraud Act and Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
  • Batten v. Retz 182 Ill. App. 3d 425 (3d Dist. 1989) It was not an abuse of discretion by the trial court in a medical malpractice action to dismiss plaintiff's complaint with prejudice and deny leave to amend even though required certificate of merit was only two days late in being filed. 
  • Schmidt v. Mahoney 659 N.W. 2d 552 (Iowa 2003), overruling Freese v. Lemmon, 210 N.W.2d 576 (Iowa 1973) Finding physician owed no duty to third party motorist that was injured by physician's epileptic patient.
  • Moss v. Gibbons 180 Ill. App. 3d 632 (4th Dist. 1989) Prisoner's medical report filed in connection with medical malpractice action against physician and radiologist alleging negligent failure to diagnose fracture of left orbital floor was insufficient because it failed to identify reasons for reviewing health professional's determination that there was a meritorious cause of action against defendants. Further, complaint for alleged negligent treatment during incarceration was properly dismissed notwithstanding prisoner's claim that he was under a legal disability, namely imprisonment that should preclude dismissal.
  • Schur v. Troy FHC (Jury Trial, 2006, Madison County, Verdict affirmed by 5th District Court of Appeals, 2008). Claim that a family practitioner failed to treat unstable angina in a patient complaining of chest pain. The patient had a normal EKG, along with a host of other non-cardiac symptoms but suffered a fatal coronary event the day following his visit with the defendant doctor. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the physician.
  • Montejo v. OSF Obtained not guilty verdict in wrongful death claim for two trauma surgeons who failed to diagnose pulmonary embolism in 38-year-old mother of two.
  • Garza v. A. Not guilty verdict defending wrongful death medical malpractice against a trauma surgeon for failure to diagnose bleeding pancreas in 20-year-old male.
  • Granados v. G.G., M.D., et al. Successfully defended (no-liability verdict) physician in medical malpractice action brought on behalf of severely mentally and physically handicapped child in seven-week jury trial which resulted in a $10+M verdict against co-defendant physicians.
  • Kinman v. State Farm Unpublished appellate opinion, finding attorney was not liable for malpractice when attorney-client relationship was severed and attorney did not cause the plaintiff any damage.
  • Schalk v. Dr. M Jury Trial, Peoria County. Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Action. The decedent was a 47 year-old deputy sheriff who was hospitalized to investigate potential liver disease. During the hospitalization, he sustained a colon puncture occurring during an invasive procedure performed by our defendant doctor. He developed peritonitis and died from consequent complications. Result: Not guilty.
  • Land v. M Trial of podiatry malpractice class action.
  • Watters v. P.S., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of 53 year-old Illinois high school counselor of the year and father of three from post CABG pulmonary embolism.
  • Welch v. R.G., M.D. Defense verdict in severe brachial plexus injury from streptokinase catheter. 
  • Kendrick v. G.S., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death post lung lobe resection.
  • Stinger v. R.W., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of policeman from Lidocaine overdose.
  • Madsen v. H.L., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death from post colonoscopy bowel perforation.
  • Warren v. B 325 Ill. App. 3d 599 (4th Dist. 2001) Interpreted statute of limitation issue in a medical malpractice case.
  • Stricklin v. B 293 Ill. App. 3d 886 (4th Dist 1997) Interpreted scope of peer review documents under the Illinois Medical Studies Act.
  • Kennedy v. Crusader Clinic (Jury trial, 2000, Winnebago County) Trial of what was one of the first "false positive" HIV tests reported in Illinois. Plaintiff sought emotional damages for three years where he believed he was HIV positive, contending that the standard of care required a confirmatory retest. One of the principle defenses was the testimony of a former employee of the C.D.C. that shortly after the tests were developed, the tests were found to be very reliable, with low "false positives" rates. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants.
  • Minnesota Lawyers Mut. Ins. Co. v. Larson 2007 WL 2688443 (S.D. Ill. 2007) Obtained summary judgment in declaratory action interpreting "claims made" insurance policy.
  • Wittekiend v. Dr. W Jury Trial, Peoria County. Medical Malpractice Action involving loss of vision. The plaintiff developed a severe glaucoma following a cataract extraction by defendant ophthalmologist, allegedly resulting in complete vision loss in her left eye. Plaintiff claimed that the defendant ophthalmologist was negligent in failing to diagnose and properly treat the glaucoma which resulted in her vision loss. Result: Not guilty.
  • Mathews v. Dr. G, et al. Jury Trial, Fulton County. Medical Malpractice Action against Orthopedic Surgeon. Plaintiff was a 35 year-old registered nurse who fell at home and fractured her wrist. Our doctor set her wrist but the fracture subsequently slipped, resulting in a re-reduction and also application of pins and plaster. Plaintiff claimed instead that an external fixator was required to properly treat the fracture, that the foreign-trained doctor defendant was not properly trained and the treatment used was out of date. When the pins and plaster were removed the fracture again slipped, which left the plaintiff with a permanently and severely deformed left wrist and hand, with pain and traumatic arthritis that precluded her return to work as a nurse. Result: Not guilty.
  • Paszkiewicz v. Microsurgery and Brain Research Institute (U.S. District Court, Eastern Division of Missouri, Jury Trial 2004) Claimed spinal cord injury during back surgery alleged to have resulted from improper use of a surgical support frame and associated medical devices. Jury verdict in favor of the defendants following a two week trial.
  • Wortz v. O. Obtained not guilty verdict in favor of orthopedic surgeon and nurse following bad result from surgery.
  • Hobson v. L. Obtained not guilty verdict for chiropractor whose manipulation allegedly caused herniated disc.
  • Nye v. R.S. Not guilty verdict defending a lawyer who failed to timely file a medical malpractice claim.
  • Bishop v. S.B., M.D. (1989), LaSalle County. Represented the defendant in a four-week trial of a medical malpractice claim involving loss of limbs from diabetic vascular insufficiency. The trial resulted in a defense verdict.
  • Coyne v. OSF Healthcare System332 Ill. App. 3d 717 (3d Dist. 2002) Medical resident, who was no longer a resident of the state but was served as respondent in discovery in medical malpractice action, was subject to personal jurisdiction in the state; medical resident resided in the state and was employed at hospital during the time that plaintiff's cause of action arose, medical resident's designation as a respondent in discovery arose directly from his employment at hospital, and medical resident purposefully availed himself of the privilege of conducting his work-related activities in the state.
  • Wilson v. MWL, M.D., et al. Obtained favorable settlement (structured settlement with cost in mid six figures) in medical malpractice action where operative procedure resulted in cortical blindness of young child. 
  • Thompson v. D. Successfully defended pediatrician following the death of a small child due to undiagnosed appendicitis.
  • Post v. Methodist Medical Center of Illinois (3d Dist. 2008) Interpretation of 735 ILCS 5/622 certificate of merit requirements. 
  • Bauer v. S. Successfully defended emergency room physician following death of patient from aortic dissection.
  • Walter v. Hill 156 Ill. App. 3d 708 (3d Dist. 1987) Failure to file affidavit of merit with medical malpractice complaint when filed did not preclude filing affidavit after statute of limitations had run.
  • Rush v. Hamdy 255 Ill. App. 3d 352 Defense verdict for gastroenterologist who perforated a patient's esophagus when treating a Schatzki's Ring with an achalasia balloon.
  • White v. G.L., M.D. Defense verdict in failed hip pinning resulting in total hip replacement and permanent pain and limp.

Publications

  • "An Overview of the Affordable Care Act’s Potential to Mitigate Future Damage Claims," Heyl Royster, Medicolegal Monitor, Fourth Quarter (2015) - Read Article
  • "Attempted Use of Experts to Expand Legal Duties in Personal Injury Cases," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Leading Lawyers Law Day Edition (2014)
  • "Claim Evaluation" chapter in Medical Malpractice, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2011, 2013) - Download Article
  • "Update: Medical Malpractice Caps," American College of Legal Medicine Q&A (2012)
  • "Illinois Court Narrows Application of Good Samaritan Act Immunity for Physicians," International Association of Defense Counsel Medical Defense and Health Law Committee Newsletter (2013)
  • "Illinois Supreme Court: Attorney Fees and Costs Should Not Be Deducted Before Calculating Amounts Recoverable Under the Health Care Services Lien Act," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2015) - Download Article
  • "Physician Disciplinary Records: TMI?!" IDC Defense Update, Vol. 11, No. 8 (2010) - Download Article
  • "Illinois Supreme Court Rules Against Emergency Room Physicians in Resolving Split Among Appellate Districts Regarding Interpretation of Good Samaritan Act," International Association of Defense Counsel Medical Defense and Health Law Committee Newsletter (2014)
  • "Update: Learned Intermediary Doctrine," American College of Legal Medicine Q&A (2012)
  • "Question: What Are the Results of Pharmacological Errors and How Do They Improve with the Use of Technology?," American College of Legal Medicine Q&A (2011)
  • "What Every Litigator Needs to Know About Protecting Non-Party Patient Privacy Rights in Litigation," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2007) - Download Article
  • "Defense Update: Professional Liability" (2008)
  • "What Every Physician Needs to Know About the Stark Law," Heyl Royster Medicolegal Monitor (2008) - Download Article
  • "The Law of Medical Practice in Illinois," West Publishing (2007)
  • "What Every Litigator Needs to Know About Negligent Credentialing Claims," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2007) - Download Article
  • "Advertising, Consent Forms, and Apparent Agency: A Review of the Illinois Supreme Court's Ruling in York v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and Some Practice Suggestions," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2007) - Download Article
  • "Attorney Liability to Non-Clients" chapter in Attorney's Legal Liability, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2007) - Download Article
  • Managing Medical Staff Disability Issues: Liability of Private Hospitals Under ADA Titles I and II," Journal of Health Law (2001)
  • "The Legal Environment of Insurance Malpractice," Arizona Agent (1996)
  • "The Case for Expanded Illinois Insurance Producer Duties," Northern Illinois University Law Review (1996)