Andrew Bell (Associate)
A native of Pekin, Illinois, Andrew Bell joined Heyl Royster’s Peoria office in 2012. He graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2009. During law school, he was a SLU Law Mentor to incoming law students. He also earned a Certificate in Labor and Employment Law as well as Concentrations in Business Transactional Skills and Taxation.
Upon graduation from law school, Andrew returned to the Peoria area and began working with a personal injury firm. While there, he gained valuable experience in handling cases. He will apply this experience to defend our firm’s clients in the areas of railroad, tort, and business and commercial litigation.
- Mr. Z v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Peoria County, Illinois (2016) An insured claimed that his pipe had burst in his rental property causing a significant loss. The insurer denied the claim after learning that the insured had failed to maintain heat and/or winterize the pipes as required by the insurance policy. The insured offered several new theories for the loss which were ultimately proven false by testimony of various witnesses and utility providers. As a result, summary judgment was granted by the trial court finding that the policy exclusion applied and that the insurance company did not act in bad faith.
- Ms. B v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Tazewell County, Illinois (2017) Plaintiffs’ insurance policy lapsed after failing to make timely premium payments. Twenty-one hours after the policy had lapsed, a fire destroyed plaintiffs’ home. Plaintiffs paid their insurance premiums immediately following the fire. The defendant insurer advised the insured that the policy was not in force on the day of the fire and refunded a portion of the premium. Plaintiffs filed suit for breach of contract and bad faith against the insurer and agent. The agent was quickly dismissed from the suit. Plaintiffs argued that there were issues of waiver and that the insurer had a pattern and practice of accepting late payments without a disruption in coverage. Alternatively, plaintiffs argued that they made advanced premium payments, therefore the cancellation was improper. The court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
- Reeder v. Auto Owners Ins. Co. 2016 IL App (3d) 150252-U Obtained summary judgment in favor of Auto Owners in a case where plaintiffs claimed they were entitled to coverage under an insurance policy issued to the prior owner of car. The firm also argued the case before the Third District Appellate Court, which affirmed the trial court's order, holding that following the sale of the car, the prior owners had no insurable interest in the vehicle. In addition, the court found that the omnibus clause of the policy could not be interpreted as offering coverage to the purchasers of the car.
- Mr. and Mrs. C. v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Peoria County, Illinois - The firm's client, a major U.S. insurance company, denied the homeowner's claim for the first fire asserting that it was intentionally set by plaintiffs and that plaintiffs made material misrepresentations during the investigation. The Company denied the claim on the second fire as the policy was void prior to the second fire due to plaintiffs' intentional acts and misrepresentations. We filed a motion to dismiss Count I of plaintiffs' complaint which pertained to the first fire as it was time-barred under the one-year limitation provision in the policy. After the Motion to Dismiss Count I was granted, we filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts II and III (second fire and bad faith claim, respectively) arguing that policy was void following the first fire and that therefore there was no policy in effect at time of the second fire. All motions were granted disposing of the entire lawsuit with prejudice
- Mrs. M. v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of McLean County, Illinois - Plaintiff's vehicle was repossessed. Plaintiff claimed that the vehicle was unlawfully repossessed and filed suit against the firm's client, a major U.S. insurance company, seeking coverage under the theft provision of her auto insurance, and the local police department. We filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that Plaintiff's claim was not made within the one-year statute of limitations set forth in the insurance policy and that as a matter of law a repossession is not a theft. Our motion was granted and the matter dismissed with prejudice.
- Goodman v. Leathers Circuit Court of McLean County, Illinois - Plaintiff, a police officer for the City of Bloomington, was rear ended while investigating another auto accident. Plaintiff sustained injuries to his low back and eventually underwent a decompressive laminectomy. As a result of the surgery, Plaintiff was forced to take a disability pension as he could not return to being a patrol officer. The claimed medical specials were in excess of $100,000 and claimed lost wages were in excess of $700,000, well above the $500,000 in policy limits. After a failed mediation wherein the mediator recommended a $300,000 settlement, the case was settled for $175,000.
- Banks v. Deputy Jury Trial, Central District of Illinois (2015): Represented a county sheriff deputy at trial in which the plaintiff claimed that the deputy violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force in the application of a Taser and by failing to intervene when other officers used excessive force. The incident occurred when law enforcement officials were attempting to arrest the plaintiff after he had just led them on a 13-minute police pursuit. At the end of the pursuit, city police officers removed the plaintiff from the vehicle and he was tased by two city police officers. When the deputy arrived at the scene, he interpreted that the plaintiff was resisting arrest and deployed his Taser. Moments later the plaintiff was placed in handcuffs. The day before trial, the co-defendant city police officers settled out of the case. After full trial on the merits against the deputy, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the deputy on both counts.
- Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Mr. and Mrs. John Doe Circuit Court of McLean County, Illinois - The insureds owned a century old, three story brick warehouse which plaintiffs claimed was improperly maintained. The warehouse collapsed onto an adjacent commercial structure which housed an optical laboratory. Two laboratory employees were trapped inside the building for a period of time and all of the highly sensitive optical manufacturing equipment was damaged. A portion of the warehouse also collapsed onto an adjacent bridge and onto another structure utilized by a plumbing contractor. Seven claimants demanded damages in excess of $8,000,000. The matter was successfully mediated on 7/23/14 for less than 20% of the aggregate demand.
- Higgins v. BNSF US Central District of Illinois, 12 CV 3072, 2014 WL 2598815: Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that his osteoarthritic knee was caused by working as a laborer and machinist for over 34 years with the railroad. He spent the last part of his career as a machinist in the diesel pit and then later as a "ready-side" machinist preparing locomotive consists for departure. Plaintiff ultimately underwent a total knee replacement and retired, claiming that he could not do the work. Defendant's biomechanical expert found that Plaintiff's job duties were reasonably safe, that the forces of said job duties did not expose Plaintiff to osteoarthritis, and that the injury was not forseeable. Defendant's orthopedic expert opined that Plaintiff's condition could be explained by non-occupational factors. The railroad moved for summary judgment arguing that there was no evidence of negligence, that it was unforeseeable that the work would result in a degenerated knee, and that Plaintiff had failed to prove, even under the relaxed standards of the FELA, a causal relationship between the work and the knee degeneration. The Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment finding that Plaintiff failed to provide any genuine issue of material fact with respect to causation, forseeability, and negligence.
- Rashid v. BNSF (2014) Represented BNSF in a Warren County, Illinois FELA case. Because of an aggressive defense of the case, Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss his claims against the railroad. The railroad obtained a stipulation for dismissal with prejudice from plaintiff, resulting in no payment by the railroad on the case.
- Hammond v. System Transport, Inc. 942 F.Supp.2d 867 (C.D. Ill. 2013) Rural intersection accident involving post-impact fire. Double fatality with admitted liability. Prior to trial, court ruled that evidence of any negligent acts leading up to the accident were irrelevant. However, the manner of death was within the scope of damages allowable for grief, sorrow and mental suffering under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. Despite no evidence suggesting either decedent survived the impact, plaintiffs' counsel argued various facts regarding the subsequent fire was relevant. Despite some of the aggravating evidence associated with the fire post-occurrence, court ruled that it could not exclude all evidence associated with the manner of death or the events surrounding the accident. This was an issue of first impression in Illinois.
- Robinson v. Russell 11 L 74, Jury Trial, Peoria County; Auto accident in which Defendant was backing out of driveway and struck Plaintiff's vehicle. Plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries to her back, left leg, and left arm, incurring over $10,000 in medical bills. We were able to prevent a large part of the medical bills and testimony from coming into evidence through motions in limine. Plaintiff asked the jury to return verdict in excess of $23,000. Jury found plaintiff was 50% at-fault and awarded less than the pre-trial offer of $4,000.
- Manczur v. Beachlers 12 SC 593, Jury Trial, Peoria County; Plaintiff alleged a breach of contract following automotive repairs by our client. Plaintiff claimed that the repairs were defective and took her vehicle to another shop that made further repairs. Plaintiff's vehicle overheated after the subsequent repairs and Plaintiff claimed that her vehicle was totaled as a result of the repairs not being done properly by our client. Experts testified for, and supported, both sides. Plaintiff asked the jury for property damage in the range of $5,000 to $6,700. The jury rendered a verdict for the plaintiff only in the amount of $500, a third of the pre-trial offer, and one-tenth or less of the demand.
- "Basics of Litigation: Managing the Aftermath of Your Worst Day on the Job," Mid-West Truckers Association Magazine (2016)
- "The Truck Driver: Keeping Your Most Important Witness Engaged," DRI, In Transit - The Newsletter for the Trucking Law Committee (2015) - Download Article
- "Illinois Appellate Court Erodes the 'Unavoidable Collision' Doctrine," National Law Review (2015) - Click here to view article.
- "Evidentiary Issues Involving Grief, Sorrow and Mental Suffering," DRI, In Transit - The Newsletter for the Trucking Law Committee (2014)
- “CYA 101: When to Contact an Attorney After an Accident”
Mid-West Truck & Trailer Show 2016
National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
Defense Research Institute (DRI)
Abraham Lincoln Court
Illinois State Bar Association
Peoria County Bar Association
State Courts of Illinois
United States District Court, Central District of Illinois
Tazewell County Children's Advocacy Center Friends Board
Young Leaders Board, Illinois CancerCare Foundation
Past Coach, Pekin Little Stars Hockey
Past Coach, Union Mission Baseball