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Heyl Royster

 

Attorneys

Nicholas Bertschy (Shareholder)

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Nick's practice involves primarily the defense of cases of serious personal injury, often involving catastrophic loss, and wrongful death. He has earned a reputation as a creative, versatile and challenging litigator. Over the years, Nick has had the unique privilege of training under some of the firm’s most outstanding litigators, collaborating with top members of the Illinois and national defense bar, and opposing premier plaintiff’s firms. He is Chair of the firm's Casualty/Tort Litigation Practice.

Nick has spent his entire legal career with Heyl Royster, beginning in 1981 in the Peoria office. His focus has been defense of personal injury and wrongful death civil litigation. He has successfully sole/first-chaired high exposure cases to verdict and has obtained many outright dismissals and summary judgments. He is a forceful and effective negotiator and has advantageously mediated and resolved many difficult cases.

Nick’s areas of practice include healthcare malpractice, nursing home and LTC litigation, product liability, construction liability, premises liability, vehicular accident, and liquor liability. In the healthcare field Nick regularly defends physicians, dentists, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Medical issues involved in his cases have included obstetrics, neonatology, anesthesiology, gastroenterology, nephrology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, emergency medicine, pathology, psychiatry, psychology, neuropsychological testing and assessment, plastic surgery, epidemiology, internal medicine and family practice, oral surgery, and TMJ. Nick enjoys issues involving complicated or unique medical causation. He also represents product manufacturers of medical equipment, motor vehicles, CNC drill press, routers and milling machines, construction equipment, lifting slings, mining equipment, off-road tires, and food service industry equipment. Nick chairs Heyl Royster’s Liquor Liability Practice Group, and is recognized among his peers for his knowledge in Illinois Liquor Liability and Dramshop Law.

Nick is a strong believer in the concept of Lawyers Giving Back, and has a committed record of charitable endeavors in the local community, with his strong involvement and participation in United Way Pillars Society, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Children's Hospital of Illinois, UIF/Pediatric Resource Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of Peoria, Peoria Area Food Bank, Peoria Historical Society, Peoria Art Guild, and Opera Illinois League. In the legal community, Nick was honored to serve for nine years on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois State Bar Association. In that capacity he also served as the long-standing chair of the Long Range Planning Committee and was responsible for many innovations leading directly to rapid growth of membership and advancement of financial capacity of the Foundation to carry out its charitable mission. Nick was also a Founding Member of the Peoria County Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Peoria County Bar Association. He is a substantial supporter of Prairie State Legal Services, which provides legal services to the indigent. He is a supporter of Court Appointed Special Advocates [CASA] representing abused and neglected children. Nick was among a select group of lawyers requested to serve on the on the Steering Committee for the very successful Lawyers Feeding Illinois campaign, and he also chaired the Heyl Royster team, which finished first in the Mega Law Firm division of that state-wide competition. As part of his legal diversity efforts, Nick is a Founding Contributor of the William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law at the American Bar Foundation.

Nick is a leader of the firm's Technology Committee with experience in: Implementation of Legal Practice/Case/Matter Management Systems, Data Conversion and Transition, Customization and Application Development, Project Management, Calendar/Docket, Client and Matter Intake, Conflicts, Contacts, DMS/Document Management Systems, Matter Security, Automated Workflow, CRM/Client Relations Management, Business Intelligence, Time Capture, Billing and Accounting, Financial Management, Data Mining and Reporting, Dashboard and Analytics, Metrics, Invoice Management, eBilling, Mobile Device Law Practice, DR/Disaster Recovery, Cost Control and Recapture, Digital Dictation Systems, Voice to Text, HR and Resource Management Solutions, Hardware Architecture - Blade Server, Citrix and Terminal Server Solutions, WAN and LAN Bandwidth Enhancement and Optimization, and Backup D2D2T/Restoration.

Significant Cases

  • Barron v. Ford Motor Co. Jury Trial, U.S.D.C. - Central District of Illinois. We served as co-counsel with Baker & McKenzie on a product liability action in which the plaintiff was a passenger in a Ford Escort which was being driven by her sister. Plaintiff, a 27-year-old who has paraplegia from the waist down, was ejected from the vehicle during a rollover accident. She claimed the sunroof and the vehicle's retention system were defectively designed, that Ford breached its implied warranty of merchantability and the vehicle was not crashworthy. Plaintiff asked the jury for between $6 and $7 million. Result: Not guilty.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cross v. Ainsworth Seed Co. Dismissal with prejudice obtained and sustained on appeal of unique issue of first impression: Statute of repose barring products liability actions against defendants who, for more than ten years, had had nothing to do with design, planning, supervision, or management of construction or improvement to real property was not unconstitutional special legislation and did not violate due process and equal protection clauses of Federal Constitution. Statute of repose in products liability actions was reenacted without savings clause, and, thus, would be given retroactive effect and would act as bar to actions premised on defects in design in construction before 1979 as well as after.
  • Oak State Products, Inc. v. Ecolab, Inc. Key appellate decision on application of Moorman Doctrine that it does not preclude all actions relative to contracts for professional services.  In addition, Uniform Commercial Code does not preempt all express warranties in service contracts.  Express warranties can exist in service contracts and there is a cause of action under Illinois law for breach of express warranty in a service contract.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Public Speaking

  • “When Social Media Becomes Socially Awkward”
    Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2016
  • “Evidenced-Based Risk Control in Nursing Practice”
    Illinois Nurses Association 2011
  • “Addressing Damages In Opening Statement For The Defense”
    Peoria County Bar Association 2007
  • “Dramshop Update”
    Peoria County Bar Association 2003
  • “Dramshop Liability”
    Peoria County Bar Association 1990

Professional Recognition

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
  • Selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois. Only five percent of lawyers in the state are named as Leading Lawyers.
  • Named to the Illinois Super Lawyers list (2008-2017). The Super Lawyers selection process is based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Only five percent of the lawyers in each state earn this designation.

Professional Associations

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • American Bar Association
  • The Bar Association of the Central and Southern Districts of Illinois
  • Peoria County Bar Association
  • American Bar Foundation (Fellow)
  • Peoria County Bar Foundation, Founding Member
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (IDC)
  • Illinois Tort Law Section Council 1990-1993
  • Illinois Bar Foundation (Board of Directors, 1996-2005), Pillar of Foundation, First Pillar of Profession
  • 2012-2013 Steering Committee Lawyers Feeding Illinois
  • Abraham Lincoln Court (Master)
  • Appointed by ISBA President Richard Felice to the ISBA Task Force on the Impact of Law School Curriculum and Debt on the Future of the Profession (2014-2015)

Court Admissions

  • State Courts of Illinois and Wisconsin
  • United States District Court, Central District of Illinois
  • United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court

Community Involvement

  • Active supporter of United Way, Pillar Society
  • Active supporter of St. Jude Midwest Affiliate
  • Active supporter of Children's Hospital of Illinois
  • Founding Contributor to the William H Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law at the American Bar Foundation
  • Active supporter of Illinois Bar Foundation
  • Pillar of Foundation
  • First Pillar of Profession
  • Active supporter of Peoria County Bar Foundation, Founding Member
  • Active supporter of Prairie State Legal Services
  • Active supporter of Boys and Girls Clubs of Peoria
  • Member, Peoria Historical Society
  • Member, Opera Illinois League
  • Member, Peoria Art Guild
  • Board of Directors, St. Jude Tennis Classic