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Heyl Royster

 

Practices

TOXIC TORTS & ASBESTOS

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For many decades, Heyl Royster has defended businesses in asbestos cases and in other environmental actions for personal injury and property damage, including cases involving benzene, vinyl chloride, nickel/chrome, diacetyl, welding rod exposures, coal exposure, and silica. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, national and international manufacturers, as well as small companies and local employers – manufacturers, suppliers, property owners, contractors, power companies, brake manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, plastics manufacturers, and premises owners.

Asbestos Litigation

Heyl Royster has been involved in the defense of asbestos personal injury litigation since the first cases were filed in the 1970's and has remained one of the leading asbestos litigation defense firms to this day. During more than three decades of litigation, we have continually revised our litigation practices and strategies to best suit the needs of our clients and to address the changing landscape of plaintiffs' firms, viable defendants, swelling dockets, and developments in the law. Our client-centered approach to the litigation has enabled us to partner with our clients to develop and adapt litigation strategies that provide proven results. We continually strive to efficiently manage litigation, reduce the number of lawsuits against our clients, and improve the system.

Our experience includes defense of cases alleging asbestos-related injuries including mesothelioma (pleural, pericardial and peritoneal), lung cancer, colon cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, asbestosis, and pleural changes. We have had the opportunity to serve as National Coordinating Counsel and Regional Counsel for our clients, and we work with many National Coordinating Counsel firms around the country. We continue to work closely with National Coordinating Counsel in the development of corporate and expert witnesses, formulation of defense strategy, and assistance with cases in Illinois and other jurisdictions.

  • We have refused to be complicit in the perpetuation of the asbestos problem. We continue to lead the opposition to "business as usual" practices that have allowed the proliferation of asbestos litigation. We continue to press for reforms and limitations on the number of cases our clients are forced to defend. Our efforts have also included successfully mounting Forum Non Conveniens challenges and fighting overbroad discovery practices.
  • We do not espouse one single defense philosophy, other than to act in the best interest of each client. We work hard to understand each client's issues and objectives. No one size fits all. Some clients are aggressively trying to change the landscape and others prefer to maintain a low profile. We adapt to these changing needs by identifying the client's expectations and putting the client's interests first. Our best results are achieved when the strategy is defined early, and our greatest opportunity for cost savings is before suit is filed. Whenever possible, and consistent with the client's interests, we share defense costs among co-defendants and pro-rate the cost of defense among multiple clients. Although some clients seek to maximize shared defense costs, others want a very specific defense team committed to their representation. We also focus on coordinating the discovery process to generate the information needed to evaluate and try a case, while limiting discovery on those matters that have little effect on the decision to settle or try a case.
  • We are ready for trial. We maintain core client teams who have the specific client knowledge and insight necessary for trial and supplement them as needed with the additional trial resources of our firm. Staffing decisions are made well in advance of the trial date and in partnership with our clients. Over the decades, our best practices, processes, training, and documents have been revised, updated, and customized so that in many cases we can avoid "reinventing the wheel." We possess the resources equal to or greater than those found in a much larger firm, combined with the responsiveness and cost benefits traditionally associated with smaller firms. We place an emphasis on using the many tools at our disposal to find solutions to our clients' most pernicious problems.

Toxic Tort Litigation

Our experience in asbestos and the defense other mass tort claims extends into many areas, including:

  • Benzene (personal injury, property damage, and ground water contamination)
  • Manganese / welding rods
  • Diacetyl
  • Silica
  • Vinyl Chloride
  • Coal Worker Pneumoconiosis / Respirators
  • Metal Working Fluids

We have developed the scientific and legal skills to address the most sophisticated litigation in all of these situations. Our commitment has been rewarded by the growth of this practice and the confidence that our clients have shown in us.

Significant Cases

  • Numerous asbestos trials begun and resolved via settlement or dismissal during course of trial proceedings.
  • Laurel Hiatt v. Higbee, Inc., et al. Madison County, Illinois, 12-L-1553. This was a personal injury action brought by a living plaintiff alleging asbestos-related mesothelioma. The client objected to jurisdiction in Illinois, asserting it did not "do business" in Illinois as contemplated by the Long-Arm statute. The issue before the court involved whether this manufacturing defendant, which had some sales in Illinois but no other Illinois contacts, could be subject to jurisdiction in Illinois for plaintiff's alleged asbestos-related injury, when the alleged injury occurred outside of Illinois. In calendar year 2012, the firm's client had sales of $260,000 (less than 2% of its total sales) in Illinois. In finding that there was no general jurisdiction over the defendant, the court noted that sales alone do not justify exercising personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendant.  The court also commented that the client's sales in Illinois were insignificant vis-à-vis their relation to the percentage that the Illinois' population represents to the rest of the country. Upon the Court's ruling, plaintiff's counsel agreed to voluntarily dismiss the client from 30 additional cases.  This result effectively removed the client from asbestos litigation in Madison County, IL.
  • Costa v. A. P. Green Industries, Inc. Defense verdict after 7-week trial in Peoria County alleging wrongful death due to asbestos exposure
  • Johnson v. A. P. Green Industries, Inc. Defense verdict after 5-week trial in Peoria County alleging wrongful death due to asbestos exposure
  • Willis, et al. v. 84 Lumber Co., et al. No. 07-L-0327 (Ill. 7th Jud. Cir. Ct., Sangamon Cty 2008) Defense verdict for CertainTeed Corporation in a living mesothelioma claim.