Michael Denning

Practice Groups:

Medical Malpractice Defense

Long Term Care/Nursing Homes


Office Locations:

Rockford, IL

Phone: 815.963.4454

Email Me


27 Heyl Royster Attorneys Selected as Super Lawyers - 02/20/2015

Firm Attorneys Contribute to IDC Survey of Law - 08/08/2014

Denning Joins the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel - 05/22/2014

26 Heyl Royster Attorneys Selected as Super Lawyers - 02/21/2014

Defense Verdicts in Med Mal Cases - 11/15/2013

Denning Named to “40 Under Forty” List - 10/03/2013

25 Heyl Royster Attorneys Selected as Super Lawyers - 01/31/2013

Six Recent NOT GUILTY Verdicts from Around the Firm - 11/08/2012

Heyl Royster Announces New Partners - 02/15/2012


  • Juris Doctor (cum laude), Northern Illinois University College of Law, 2002
  • Bachelor of Science-Business Administration, Bradley University, 1999

Year Joined Firm




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Heyl Royster



Michael Denning (Partner)


Mike concentrates his practice in civil defense litigation, including medical malpractice and nursing home litigation and general auto and trucking litigation. In addition to defending physicians and long term care facilities in malpractice litigation and personal injury claims, Mike also handles a myriad of administrative issues for long term care facilities, including involuntary discharge proceedings, licensure issues, fraud and abuse claims, and other litigation.

Mike has represented the firm's clients in jury trials, high-exposure mediations and settlement conferences. He has represented physicians as well as Fortune 500 companies, local businesses, professionals and insurance companies in a variety of cases. Mike has also defended the firm's clients and their interests at depositions, including those of plaintiffs, co-defendants, witnesses, treating physicians, and expert witnesses. He has presented physicians, nurses and nursing assistants for deposition in numerous professional liability cases. Mike is periodically contacted immediately after a catastrophic trucking accident to visit an accident scene and work with the client to help develop the facts and evidence, and prepare the case strategy with an eye toward a successful result once litigation is filed.

Significant Cases

  • Obtained directed verdict in jury trial on behalf of general surgeon who was alleged to have improperly operated on a patient suffering from apparent bile leak and associated symptoms caused by a retained gallbladder following cholecystectomy performed by another surgeon.
  • Obtained a defense verdict for defendant surgeon after a jury trial in which plaintiff alleged that the surgeon failed to entirely remove her gallbladder during a cholecystectomy.
  • Represented defendant orthopedic surgeon at jury trial in the successful defense of allegations that the doctor improperly casted plaintiff's both-bone forearm fracture, allegedly causing permanent deformity and loss of motion.
  • Represented OB-GYN physician at jury trial in the successful defense of plaintiff's allegations of bowel injury during closure of surgical wound after performance of tubal ligation.
  • Represented a radiation oncologist at trial in the successful defense of plaintiff's claims that in treating her cancer, the oncologist administered too much radiation, causing insufficiency fractures in her bones and resulting in her death.
  • Eckburg v. Presbytery of Blackhawk of Presbyterian Church (USA) 396 Ill.App.3d 164, 918 N.E.2d 1184 (2d Dist. 2009) Represented rural landowner in the appeal of a case alleging serious injury and wrongful death to plaintiffs, a motorcycle rider and his passenger wife, resulting from a tree falling onto state highway. The court affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the case. In a second appeal, (Eckburg v. Presbytery of Blackhawk of Presbyterian Church (USA), 2011 IL App (2d) 110284-U, Not Reported in N.E.2d, 2011 WL 10457586, (2d Dist. 2011), the Appellate Court ruled that the landowner could not be held liable for damage caused by falling branches or trees that abut private property that are physically located on state's Right of Way and exclusively under state's control.
  • Lorenz ex rel. Lorenz v. Herrera 362 Ill. App. 3d 1171 (2d Dist. 2006) Represented defendants/appellants Sheriff and Sheriff's Department in an appellate case that established that the proper venue for personal injury action against deputy sheriff is county in which sheriff's office is located, not plaintiff's county of residence.


  • "Survey of Civil Practice Cases," Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel's 2013 Survey of Law (2014) - Download Article
  • "Liquor Liability: Social Hosts and Other Issues," 26th Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2011) - Download Article
  • "Illinois Courts Expand, Then Narrow Validity of Arbitration Agreements in Nursing Home Litigation," IDC Defense Update, Vol. 12, No. 14 (2011) - Download Article

Public Speaking

  • “How to Handle the Midnight Call and The Building Blocks of an Effective Defense”
    Heyl Royster 29th Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2014
  • “Civil Procedure Update”
    Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel 2013
  • “You’ve Been Served: How to Help Your Organization Understand and Defend a Lawsuit”
    St. Mary’s Occupational Health & Streator Chamber of Commerce 2013

Professional Recognition

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
  • Named one of "40 Under Forty" attorneys to watch in Illinois by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company.  This honor recognizes exceptional lawyering skills, significant contributions to the legal profession and substantial involvement in local community. Download PDF
  • Named to the Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars list (2012-2015). The Super Lawyers Rising Stars selection process is based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Only 2.5 percent of Illinois lawyers under the age of 40 or who have been practicing 10 years or less earn this designation.

Professional Associations

  • Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (Vice Chair, Professional Liability Section; Editor, Professional Liability Section Newsletter)
  • Professional Liability Defense Federation
  • Winnebago County Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Defense Research Institute
  • American Bar Association 
  • State Bar of Wisconsin

Court Admissions

  • State Courts of Illinois and Wisconsin
  • United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois and Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin
  • United States Supreme Court  

Community Involvement

  • Chair, Board of Directors of the Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross
  • Board Member, Belvidere Community School District 100 Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Alumni Council at Northern Illinois University College of Law 
  • Prior experience in teaching several Law classes in paralegal program at Rockford Business College