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Heyl Royster

 

Attorneys

Keith Fruehling (Shareholder)

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Keith Fruehling is a shareholder in our growing Champaign office. He is a highly successful litigator in many civil practice areas, including the defense of complex civil rights, medical malpractice, employment, construction, product liability, and toxic tort/asbestos claims in federal and state courts. He has taught, lectured, and published on federal and state civil practice issues.

Keith represents Fortune 500 companies, universities, sheriffs, and municipal law enforcement officers, correctional officers, state and local governmental units, doctors, attorneys, veterinarians, real estate brokers/agents and other professionals, insurers, and local businesses. He managed the trial preparation of large groups of asbestos cases set for trial in Madison County, Illinois in which he defended product manufacturers, fiber suppliers, equipment manufacturers, contractors, and premises owners. Over his 20-year career, Keith has defended many cases in which damages were claimed in the millions of dollars and tried a number of cases to verdict. He has defended multiple multi-million dollar cases to verdict in trials spanning up to eight weeks, including helping to secure a not-guilty verdict for a corporate client in an aviation wrongful death case.

He currently serves on the Illinois State Bar Association's Board of Governors (ISBA), is the immediate past chair of the ISBA's Task Force on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, and has recently been appointed by the President of the Illinois State Bar Association to the Future of the Courts Special Committee to coordinate the ISBA's efforts to identify and publicize threats to fair and impartial courts from lack of funding and education, and to consider measures to address this problem.  Keith is the published author of several articles for Heyl Royster's Governmental Newsletter as well as the Defense Research Institute, and Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education. He routinely presents at conferences and seminars. His outstanding reputation for legal ability, professional ethics, client success, and dedication to the profession has been recognized by peer review and is recognized by the Martindale-Hubbell "AV Preeminent" rating.

Prior to joining Heyl Royster in 1997, Keith served as a Senior Assistant State's Attorney with Champaign County from 1994-1997. He continues a strong relationship with the State's Attorney's office and Champaign County Judiciary where he handles sensitive and complex cases as a Special Prosecutor appointed by the Champaign County Chief Judge. Over the past two decades, Keith has forged a leadership role in the legal profession serving as a delegate to the American Bar Association's (ABA) House of Delegates, member of the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) and ISBA's Assembly. He also served as the Chair of the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel's (IDC) Trial Academy and on the Defense Research Institute's (DRI) Task Force on the Independence of the Judiciary. He is the past-President of the Champaign County Bar Association.

In 2002, Keith was recognized as a "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the ISBA. In 2007, Keith was named one of the "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch" by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Publishing Company. In 2013, he was selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois.  The Leading Lawyers Network surveys lawyers, asking them which of their peers, indeed their competitors, they would recommend to a family member or friend if they could not take a case within their area of law or geographic region. To maintain the quality and credibility of the survey, lawyers cannot nominate themselves or anyone at their own law firm. Based upon survey nominations and approval by an Advisory Board, only the top 5% of lawyers are nominated and eligible for membership in the Leading Lawyers Network in the State of Illinois.

Significant Cases

  • 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.
  • A.F.S.C.M.E. v. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich - Illinois Governor made the executive decision to close the Pontiac Prison – part of the Illinois Department of Corrections system. In response, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (A.F.S.C.M.E.) and others filed suit against the Governor and other defendants claiming the Governor did not have the right to take that action and sought a writ of mandamus Order commanding the Governor to reverse his decision and to continue operating the prison. A.F.S.C.M.E. also sought a temporary restraining Order (T.R.O.) preventing the Governor or the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections from taking any action consistent with closing the prison until the court ruled on the plaintiff's request for the writ. We responded to the plaintiff's T.R.O. asking the court to deny the issuance of the T.R.O. and filed a Motion to Dismiss the plaintiff's Complaint for Writ of Mandamus. The court denied the request for the temporary restraining order. The court later dismissed the entire cause of action brought by plaintiffs.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Estate of Beavers v. Champaign County v. Evercom Systems - Estate of former inmate that committed suicide brought Section 1983 civil rights lawsuit in federal court alleging that County defendants and private telephone company were deliberately indifferent to the inmate's safety. After thorough discovery and mediation, the parties reached a favorable, settlement agreement.

Publications

  • "Introduction to the Open Meetings Act," chapter in Illinois Sunshine Laws, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2016) - Download Article
  • "Survey of Local Government Law Cases," Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel's 2013 Survey of Law (2014) - Download Article
  • "Tort Immunity Act," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly Monograph (2014) – Download Article
  • "Ethical Issues for Government Attorneys," Heyl Royster Governmental Newsletter (2014) - Read Article
  • "Introduction to the Open Meetings Act," chapter in Illinois' Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2011, 2013) - Download Article
  • "Employee Manuals: Managing Expectations/Complying with the Law," Heyl Royster Governmental Newsletter (2011) - Download Article
  • "Public Unions and the Collective Bargaining Process," Heyl Royster Governmental Newsletter (2011) - Download Article
  • "A New Court Opinion on the Open Meetings Act: Is Your Notice, Agenda, and Meeting Site Good Enough for a Special Meeting?" Heyl Royster Governmental Newsletter (2010) - 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)

Public Speaking

  • “The Essentials on Police Litigation: From Start to Finish”
    National Business Institute 2016
  • “Body Worn Cameras and the Future of Excessive Force Litigation”
    Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2016
  • “Public Duty Rule Panel/Tort Immunity”
    Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2016
  • “Medical Cannabis: A Primer For Employers and Governmental Entities”
    Heyl Royster Lunch & Learn Seminar/Webinar 2014
  • “Setting the Lineup: The Construction Contract and GL Insurance: 10 Things Every Attorney Should Know”
    IDC Spring Symposium 2014
  • “Liability Issues Training”
    McDonough County, Illinois Sheriff's Office 2014
  • “It Ain’t Easy Being [a] Green Government”
    I.L.E.A.S. - Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System 2012
  • “Cemetery Maintenance Districts – Laying Important Issues to Rest”
    I.L.E.A.S. - Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System 2012
  • “Personnel Records Review Act and Related Concerns with the Freedom of Information Act”
    I.L.E.A.S. - Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System 2011
  • “Legislative and Tort Immunity Update”
    I.L.E.A.S. - Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System 2011
  • “Illinois Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act Amendments and Update - Local Governmental Law”
    Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System 2010
  • “Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Update”
    Heyl Royster 2008
  • “Litigation and the Importance of Insurance”
    Illinois Drainage District Association 2007
  • “Current Evidentiary Issues: Collateral Source Rule (Arthur v. Catour)”
    Heyl Royster 2005
  • “Setting the Pace: FAQs - What Comes Into Evidence and What Does Not”
    Heyl Royster 2004

Professional Recognition

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
  • Selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois in the areas of Personal Injury Defense Law: General; Products Liability Defense Law; and Professional Malpractice Law: Including Legal/Technical/Financial. Only five percent of lawyers in the state are named as Leading Lawyers.
  • "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Illinois State Bar Association in 2002 in recognition of significant dedication and contribution in the legal profession.
  • In 2007, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Publishing Company honored Keith by selecting him as one of "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch." This prestigious award recognizes exceptional lawyering skills, significant contributions to the legal profession and substantial involvement in local community.

Professional Associations

  • Illinois State Bar Association (Board of Governors 2016-2018, 2013-2015, 2002-2008; Chairman of the ISBA Task Force on the Unauthorized Practice of Law; Chair, Assembly Finance Committee; Advertising, Public Relations, Personnel and Scope and Correlation Committees; Former member of Governance Committee; Under Age 35 Representative from the ISBA to the American Bar Association House of Delegates (1999-2008); Former Board liaison to multiple Section Councils; Bar Leadership Conference Special Committee on selecting an electronic research provider; Member - Civil, Legislative and Health Care Law Sections)
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (Chairman of the Trial Academy Committee 2002-2007)
  • Defense Research Institute (recently served on the Judicial Task Force which drafted a report entitled "Without Fear or Fervor," a basic overview of the issues currently facing the judiciary and how to begin constructively addressing long term solutions)
  • American Bar Association (House of Delegates June 2000 - August 2007)
  • Champaign County Bar Association (President 2001-2002)

Court Admissions

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

Community Involvement

  • Champaign St. Matthew School Education Commission (Member)
  • Champaign St. Matthew School Athletic Commission (Member)
  • Champaign Centennial High School Cheerleading Boosters (Member)
  • Champaign Tribe Boys Baseball Team (Coach)
  • Champaign Thunder Boys Basketball Team (Coach)
  • Champaign Blues Girls Basketball Team (Coach)
  • Champaign St. Matthew Raiders Boys and Girls Basketball Teams (Coach)
  • Champaign St. Matthew Raiders Boys Junior Varsity Baseball Team – (Coach)
  • Also, coach to local youth in soccer, basketball and baseball for the Champaign Park District, Kiwanis Club, and the YMCA.