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Heyl Royster has been recognized for many years as the "go to" defense firm in Downstate Illinois for virtually every type of tort litigation. With over 100 attorneys in six locations, Heyl Royster lawyers have successfully defended clients in all of the federal courts and in each of the 102 counties in the State of Illinois, as well as in contiguous states. Our clients come from all sectors of the business community – Fortune 500 companies, small business concerns, insurance carriers, professionals, and individuals – and the tort-related cases in which we represent them cover a broad spectrum of disciplines, including:
These cases often involve wrongful death, catastrophic injury and other high-exposure claims brought against businesses or individuals. In serious transportation and construction accidents, for example, our attorneys are frequently retained within hours of the accident, and are trained to immediately go to the accident scene, meet with the client and its employees and commence the investigation utilizing highly-qualified experts to take photographs, make necessary measurements and reconstruct the accident in order to assist the client in estimating potential exposure at the earliest possible time.
We take pride in being the largest law firm in Illinois that is not based in Chicago. While Heyl Royster is frequently retained to handle complex and high-exposure cases in Cook County, our on-the-ground knowledge and experience with "Downstate Illinois" (i.e., outside of Cook County) judges, lawyers, jury venires, jury verdicts, and the customs and practices in downstate venues is often advantageous for our clients in the evaluation and defense of tort cases of all types and magnitudes.
Heyl Royster possesses the litigation resources and expertise that allows us to provide our clients with the same services and responsiveness that would be expected at a large metropolitan firm but at the costs associated with a downstate firm, i.e., we can provide our clients with the same level of service but at less expense than our metropolitan competitors. With at least five partners in each of our five offices, we can provide appropriate levels of staffing, depth and agility at cost-effective rates. By leveraging technology, we frequently utilize multi-office staffing to provide our clients with the requisite expertise regardless of where a particular case is venued.
Our firm is unique in that we have expanded in response to client demand by sending our people to locations to open offices. The managing partners in each of our five offices began their legal careers in the Peoria office, and a number of other senior attorneys in each office began their legal careers in Peoria or one of the other offices. We do not operate our offices as separate profit centers, but rather encourage our lawyers to share work when doing so will benefit the client. Team concepts are stressed not only within the firm but also in the representation of our clients. We believe that the client is best served when everyone on the team – the partner, the claims professional and/or corporate counsel, the associate and the paralegal – is contributing information and ideas and has a role to play. We very much like to work with committed professionals whose input and ideas are solicited and utilized to add perspective and value to the handling of a matter. Our lawyers pride themselves on being client-centric, recognizing that cases in which our firm has been retained are the client's cases, not ours, and thus our focus is on achieving the client's goals.
Heyl Royster is committed to bringing disputes to conclusion as quickly and reasonably as possible. Our focus is on early evaluation of both liability and damage issues, and then assisting the client to formulate a strategy and budget designed to achieve an optimal result. Although trial skills are obviously emphasized in our firm – most of our partners who are trial lawyers have been recognized by their peers as reflected in various lawyer-rating services (e.g., Martindale-Hubbell, Leading Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and so on) – it has never been our intention to run every dispute through the judicial system. Our goal is to help clients achieve the most favorable resolution possible in a prompt, cost-effective fashion without prolonged, uncontrolled and expensive litigation. For example, in many instances our use of aggressive motion practice has led to the transfer of a case to a more favorable defense forum, or to a favorable settlement (because of the possibility of an adverse ruling), or to an outright dismissal. In others, when consistent with the objectives of our client, we have used various ADR tools (e.g., voluntary and court-ordered mediation, arbitration, summary jury trials, court settlement conferences/pre-trials, etc.) at our disposal. We often utilize structured settlements, mutual tolling (of statutes of limitations) agreements, high-low agreements, and other creative approaches to resolve difficult cases. While we know that not every case will go to trial – and that in many cases, early settlement may be the most cost-effective result for our client – we also realize that in many instances a client cannot obtain a favorable resolution unless the opponents realize that the threat of trial is real and they will be up against a firm of first-class trial lawyers.
Through our lawyers' participation in bar and industry activities, we not only identify, but help develop trends in the law which we believe will be of benefit to our clients and the defense bar. Many of our partners either hold or have held leadership positions in local, state and national bar and defense organizations. In recent years, partners in our firm have headed the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC); and Lawyers for Civil Justice (LCJ). We have had several partners on the Board of Directors of DRI, and other partners have been chairs of DRI Substantive Law Committees. Three of our partners have been president of the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, and many others have been active in that organization in one capacity or another. One of our partners was a president of the Illinois State Bar Association and recently served on the American Bar Association Board of Governors. A number of our partners have been involved in either drafting or passing tort reform legislation, and our firm is very much committed to taking a leadership role to "level the playing field" for our clients and advancing our system of jurisprudence. Collectively, the lawyers in our firm spend hundreds of volunteer hours each year as part of our commitment to improving the civil justice system.
- Jerry Grant v. Clennon Electric, et al. 02-WC-10537/09 MR 503
- Wilson v. Norfolk and Western Railway Company 718 N.E.2d 172 The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in case of first impression that a railroad employee must prove physical contact or the threat of physical contact to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress under the FELA.
- Land v. Montgomery Health Care - Three hundred class action plaintiffs brought medical malpractice case alleging negligent and intentional acts against the Defendant. Defendant denied the allegations of the various class members. After an eight week trial involving 25 members of the class, the parties reached a favorable, settlement agreement.
- Estate of Leon Rademacher v. Teledyne Industries, Inc., Teledyne Continental Motor, et al. - Estate brought Wrongful Death and Survival Act case on behalf of successful farmer, young husband and father against aviation mechanic and other Defendants alleging negligence and product liability caused plane operated by friend to crash land. Following a six-week trial, the jury returned a not-guilty verdict on behalf of our client.
- Melvina Hopkins, as Mother and Next Friend of Charles Lee, a Minor, et al. v. Bergman, et al. - Mother and next friend of Minor brought negligence case against driver of a local school district school bus and driver of a private vehicle following accident where elementary school student stepped off of bus and was hit and injured by the private vehicle. After extensive discovery and mediation, the parties reached a favorable, settlement agreement.
- Osborne v. Joseph O’Brien and O’Brien Steel Service, Inc. Successfully defended (no-liability verdict) action brought by permanently disabled plaintiff injured when defendant's vehicle slid on ice and crossed center line in one-week jury trial.
- Massengale v. K-Mart Corporation Trial; not guilty jury verdict for alleged slip and fall on spilled motor oil.
- Owen v. C 113 Ill. 2d 273 (1986), Application of innocent construction rule in defamation case.
- Obtained summary judgment for a design engineer in construction injury claims in the construction of a nuclear power facility.
- O’Byrne v. Morlock Trial; minimal jury verdict for plaintiff in two car accident with 93 year old insured-driver.
- Patton v. Prospect Foods, Inc. Trial; minimal jury award for plaintiff who was allegedly assaulted by grocery store employees after claimed theft of store items.
- Harris v. Walker 119 Ill. 2d 542 (1988) The Illinois Supreme Court held that a person who rents a horse and thereafter sustains injuries while horseback riding cannot obtain a recovery from the riding stable for a claimed violation of the Animal Control Act, as a renter of a horse is not within the class of persons the legislature intended to protect when it enacted the Animal Control Act. In addition, an exculpatory release signed by the Plaintiff is enforceable to release the riding stable from negligence liability.
- Moore v. Swoboda 213 Ill. App. 3d 217 (4th Dist. 1991); appeal denied, 141 Ill. 2d. 544 (1991) Trial and appeal; wrongful death jury verdict in favor of parents of deceased minor reversed on appeal due to parents' own contributory fault in allowing 14 year old minor to drive dirt bike unsupervised in rural areas. The Wrongful Death Act was amended shortly thereafter to eliminate the possibility of a beneficiary's contributory fault as a complete bar to any recovery.
- Bhattacharya v. Venture Stores, Inc., and Unarco Industries, Inc. 86 L 195 (Macon County) Filed in Macon County, Sixth Judicial Circuit of Illinois - Personal injury case involving an infant who was placed in a shopping cart which tipped over resulting in bilateral femur fractures. We received a directed verdict after the completion of the plaintiff's case.
- Lytle v. Burgland, et al. Obtained favorable settlement (structured settlement with cost in low six figures) in case where plaintiff partially paralyzed after automobile accident.
- Greenlee v. First National Bank in Dekalb 175 Ill. App. 3d 236 (2d Dist. 1988) Second District Appellate Court holding that national building code provisions (BOCA) adopted by DeKalb County do not apply to a 100 year old farm house.
- Kohl v. Miller Personal Injury, Peoria County. Retrial of case originally defended by another firm and reversed on post-trial motion. Defendant and his son were operating a hayrack ride for plaintiff's group. Three members of the group were thrown from the wagon. Plaintiff claimed the defendant was negligent for driving too fast and not breaking up bales of hay. Plaintiff suffered back and neck injuries, and numbness in the left arm and fingers resulting in disability, requiring early retirement from his job. Result: Not guilty.
- Goodknight v. Village of Royal 197 Ill. App. 3d 319 (1990) Common law liability of a municipality for injuries sustained due to consumption of alcohol.
- Bohlen v. Shaw and Tate Trial; multiple car accident resulting in assessment of 10% fault against our insured-driver.
- West v. Kirkham 207 Ill. App. 3d 954 (4th Dist. 1991) Recognized that trial court may find plaintiff contributorily negligent as a matter of law.
- Successfully defended nationwide trucking firm in accident in which the defendant truck driver and the two plaintiff truck drivers were all killed in the same accident by utilization of accident reconstruction to demonstrate that the plaintiff's version of how the accident occurred could not have physically happened.
- Buell v. Oakland Fire Protection District 237 Ill. App. 3d 940 (1992) Applicability of Tort Immunity Act in contribution claim against an ambulance service.
- Moore v. Diamond-Star Motors (1993), McLean County, multi-party trial.
- Lower v. Rucker 217 Ill. App. 3d 1 (2d Dist. 1991) Reversal of trial court's order to produce statement of witness/passenger, who was also an insured under the same policy as the driver. The case, which involved a car/pedestrian collision at high speeds, was later tried before a jury and resulted in a defense verdict. (Jury Trial, 1994, Ogle County)
- Lane v. Troxtell and Rockwell Trial; minimal jury verdict in favor plaintiff-passenger on the back of a motorcycle that was struck by insured-driver's pick-up.
- Williams v. Old English Inn Jury Trial, McLean County, IL. Plaintiff was a patron in defendant's tavern when a shelf supporting a 19-inch CRT television set and other items fell, the heavy television severely striking plaintiff a 27-year-old district sales rep on the head and shoulder. Plaintiff suffered cervical and head injuries, loss of consciousness, and significantly reduced function, pain and numbness of her left arm and hand from thoracic outlet syndrome. Asked jury for $471,000+. Result: Not guilty.
- Successfully defended national trucking firm and driver in catastrophic injury claim when client driver struck the rear of a parked tractor-trailer unit by demonstrating through accident reconstruction testimony that the semi was parked in the travel portion of the interstate.
- Watson v. J.C. Penney Co., Inc. 237 Ill. App. 3d 976 (4th Dist. 1992) The court refuses to overrule the natural accumulation rule which was applied to preclude the plaintiff from obtaining a recovery for a slip and fall on a natural accumulation of ice.
- Bubb v. Springfield School Dist. 186 167 Ill. 2d 372 (1995) This was a case of first impression. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the recreational immunity set forth in Section 3-106 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act applies to preclude liability if the property upon which the plaintiff sustains an injury was intended or permitted to be used for recreational purposes, regardless of the specific use of the property at the time of injury or the primary purpose of the property.
- Bubb v. Springfield School Dist. 186 167 Ill. 2d 372 (1995) In a case of first impression, the court interpreted language in Section 3-106 of the Tort Immunity Act, finding that statutory recreational immunity is triggered by the recreational character of the property regardless of its primary purpose.
- Fillpot v. Midway Airlines 261 Ill. App. 3d 237 (1994) Airline cannot be liable for slip and fall on ice on tarmac.
- Dwayne Hoffer v. American Family Insurance 95 L 345 (Tazewell County) Filed in Tazewell County, Tenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois - A breach of contract and bad faith case against the insurer for alleged improper denial of a theft claim. The verdict was not guilty.
- Page v. Blank 262 Ill. App. 3d 580 (4th Dist. 1994) Discusses what duty a landowner owes to protect the safety of children, and concludes that a landowner owes no duty and is not liable to a 12 year old who suffers a loss of vision in an eye, when the child struck a nail with a hammer and the nail bounced into his eye while building a skate board ramp on the defendant's premises.
- Fearnow and Colvin v. Steidinger (1997), Livingston County, multi-party death trial.
- Veltman v. Employers Mutual Casualty (Jury trial, Will County, 1996) In what is believed to be the first spoliation case tried after the Illinois Supreme Court's opinion of Boyd v. Travelers Insurance, a directed verdict was obtained for Employer's Mutual Casualty in connection with the loss of the quick coupler valve which was allegedly defective, causing an 18 years old employee to be blinded after exposure to anhydrous ammonia. The case was tried in two phases. The first phase focused on the product liability allegations against the maker of the quick coupler valve while the second phase revolved around the loss of the evidence and whether that loss impaired the ability of the parties to adequately present their cases.
- Romack v. R. Gingerich Co. 314 Ill. App. 3d 1065 (3d Dist. 2000) - Determination of whether partial waiver of workers' compensation lien is good faith settlement under Illinois Contribution Act.
- Waterman v. Swisher (2002), Warren County, trial concerning loss of an eye.
- VanHoose v. Phillip Environmental Structural Work Act case involving whether client provided an unsafe workplace when plaintiff used a man lift to move a steel plate, and whether our client was "in charge of plaintiff's work;" trial lasted 5 days. The result was plaintiff's verdict - 90% fault of third party defendant, 3% to property owner and 7% to our client, a subcontractor on the premises.
- Brown v. Crabtree Auto/pedestrian collision case involving catastrophic injuries to plaintiff. Result was plaintiff's verdict, reduced by 50% for plaintiff's contributory negligence. Net award was $750,000. Case was tried on a high/low agreement, this number fell within that range.
- Hamm v. Schnorr 321 Ill. App. 3d 1067 (4th Dist. 2001) Affirmed summary judgment where plaintiff on motorcycle was injured by defendant's cattle.
- Gibson v. Village of Oquawka 98 L 6 (Henderson County) Filed in Henderson County, Ninth Judicial Circuit of Illinois - A premises liability case wherein plaintiff sustained an injury which resulted in bilateral knee surgeries. The verdict was not guilty.
- Zarr v. Kroger Co. 218 Ill. 2d 559 (2006) Affirmed summary judgment in wrongful death premises liability case.
- Obtained summary judgment for a design engineering firm in multiple wrongful death claims arising out of an accident during the repair of a bridge over the Illinois River.
- West v. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Rule 23 Order (3d Dist. 2010) Affirmed trial court decision granting summary judgment on First Amendment grounds to minister and religious entities in defamation action.
- Thurman v. Hamm’s Holiday Harbor (2005), Peoria County, wrongful death trial.
- Bush v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria 351 Ill. App. 3d 558 (3d Dist. 2004) Protective Order was appropriate in clergy defamation/sex abuse lawsuit.
- Bush v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria (3d Dist. 2007) Affirmed trial court's dismissal of removed priest's breach of contract claim under First Amendment. Also affirmed dismissal of count for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
- Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity v. Sound and Signal Electronics, William Murphy, individually and d/b/a Sound and Signal Electronics, SecurityLink, Inc. and SecurityLink, Inc., f/k/a SecurityLink from Ameritech f/k/a Ameritech Monitoring Services, Inc., and ADT Security Services Inc., and TYCO International (US) Inc. Mediation of large property damage claim involving destruction of fraternity house fire; represented fire alarm monitoring company at mediation and resolved case following lengthy discovery and mediation/settlement discussions for five months.
- B & J Sales, Inc. v. Peterbilt Arbitration, McLean County, IL, Case no. 03 AR 77. Subrogation claim seeking recovery from truck maintenance provider.
- Berry v. American Standard, Inc. 382 Ill. App. 3d 895 (5th Dist. 2008) Denial of use of deceased plaintiff's discovery deposition as admissible evidence to defeat defendant's summary judgment motion.
- Vivian Murphy, Executor of the Estate of Joseph E. Murphy (Deceased) v. Ron Cline Trucking and James Stephens Filed in DeWitt County, Sixth Judicial Circuit of Illinois - A wrongful death case wherein it was alleged that the plaintiff sustained a subdural hematoma from a motor vehicle accident which eventually caused his death. The verdict was not guilty.
- Rocke v. Froelich McLean County (2007), Premises liability trial.
- Shank v. H.C. Fields 373 Ill. App. 3d 290 (4th Dist. 2007) Finding the acts of a road construction contractor were not the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries.
- John Doe, et al. v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria 2008 Trial court dismissed six abuse lawsuits with prejudice based on statute of limitations
- Successfully removed to federal court a wrongful death claim against an international resort chain for a claim brought in state court when a decedent was killed following a palm tree falling on him at resort in Caribbean. Also successfully argued that Dutch law should apply resulting in a significantly less value to the case.
- John Doe, et al. v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria 2008 Trial court dismissed ten clergy sex abuse lawsuits with prejudice based on statute of repose grounds.
- Jury Trial (Logan County, Illinois) Successfully defended (no-liability verdict) tractor-trailer operator in jury trial alleging negligence in interstate collision.
- "Physician Disciplinary Records: TMI?!" IDC Defense Update, Vol. 11, No. 8 (2010) - Download Article
- Co-Editor, Trial Briefs, Illinois State Bar Association, Civil Practice and Procedure Section (1999-2009)
- "The Attorney - Client Relationship," chapter in Civil Practice: Opening the Case, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2009) - Download Article
- "Privileges" chapter in Illinois Civil Trial Evidence, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2009) - Download Article
- "Return of the Verdict and Entry of Judgment" chapter in Illinois Civil Practice: Trying the Case, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2009) - Download Article
- "The Power Behind the Robe: A Primer on Contempt Law," published by Illinois Bar Journal (2009)
- "Rule 41(a) Voluntary Dismissal in Federal Court Takes Effect Immediately Upon Filing, Not When Docketed," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2008) - Download Article
- "Economic Loss - The Line Between Contract and Tort," chapter in Contract Law, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2008) - Download Article
- "Illinois Appellate Court First District Vacates $25 Million Jury Verdict Because Trial Court Improperly Barred Expert Testimony Regarding Plaintiff's Blood-Alcohol Level," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2008) - Download Article
- "Without Fear or Fervor," Defense Research Institute Judicial Task Force - Contributing author. The paper explored the current issues facing modern judiciary and methods of constructively addressing those issues. (2007)
- "Trial Court Properly Refused Plaintiff's Jury Instruction Seeking Damages for Future Pain and Suffering," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2006) - Download Article
- "Premises Liability Update," Heyl Royster (2005)
- "The Necessity of Analyzing All Amendments for Lack of Timeliness Under the 'Relation Back' Doctrine of 735 ILCS 5/2-616(b)," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2005) - Download Article
- "Developing Basic Trial Skills," The Civil Litigator (2004)
- "Life After 'Same Part of the Body:' An Update on Admissibility of Prior Injuries," Illinois Bar Journal (2004)
- "What Constitutes an Invalid 'Blanket Consent' Within the Purview of Illinois' Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act?" Northern Illinois University Law Review (2002)
- "Code Blue! Ambulance Manufacturing Specifications May Pre-empt State Common Law Claims," Northern Illinois University Law Review (2001)
- "Life After Daubert and Kumho Tire: An Update on the Admissibility of Expert Testimony," Illinois Bar Journal (2000)
- "Open and Obvious Danger Doctrine is Not a Per Se Bar to Finding a Duty on the Part of a Landowner to Protect Against Injuries From Diving Into a Body of Water," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1999) - Download Article
- "Duty of General Contractor to Independent Contractor's Employee on Construction Site," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1999) - Download Article
- "The Admissibility of Expert Reconstruction Testimony Where There is Also Eyewitness Testimony, Sometimes You See It, Sometimes You Don't," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1996) - Download Article
- "Computer Records Foundation," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1993)
- "Foundation and Admissibility of Videotape Surveillance," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1993)
- Missouri Wrongful Death Statute, Missouri Law Review (1992)
- "Punitive Damages - Complicity Rule Instruction," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1991)
- "How the New Civil Rules Will Affect Defense and Corporate Counsel"
- "Preparing Your Expert Witness to Answer the Hard Questions at Deposition"
- Defense Counsel Training Manual (Chapter Author)
- "Winning the Defense Verdict" (Chapter Author)