Heyl Royster

Casualty & Tort

Heyl Royster is your go-to defense firm for casualty and tort litigation.

Our success as the go-to defense law firm for casualty and tort litigation has led to significant regional growth. These civil litigation cases often involve wrongful death claims, catastrophic injury claims, high-exposure property damage claims, and environmental damage claims brought against businesses, governmental bodies, professionals, and individuals. Our commitment is to conclude legal disputes quickly by focusing early on evaluating liability and damages and assisting the client in formulating a strategy designed to achieve an optimal result. Our clients come from all sectors – Fortune 500 companies, large and small business owners, government, insurance carriers, professionals, individuals, and estates.

Implementing a staffing model of excellence and responsiveness that seeks the most favorable resolution without prolonged, uncontrolled, and expensive litigation provides our clients with a team of requisite skills and relationships to achieve desired outcomes regardless of where a case is venued. Our experience with judges, lawyers, jury venires, jury verdicts, and the customs and practices in our communities are advantageous to our clients. When appropriate, our use of aggressive motion practice has led to a favorable settlement, transferring a case to a more favorable defense forum, eliminating claims or outright dismissal. 

Our litigation attorneys are often retained in serious transportation and construction accidents within hours of the accident. They have experience at accident scenes, meet with clients and their employees, and commence the investigation using highly-qualified accident reconstruction experts to assist the client in estimating potential exposure as early as possible.

We effectively use alternative dispute resolution tools and are experienced with structured settlements, mutual tolling of statutes of limitations agreements, high-low verdict agreements, and other creative approaches to resolving complex cases.



  • Arson, fraud, and first-and third-party property claims
  • Chemical exposure
  • Construction accidents
  • Environmental exposure and discharge
  • Explosions and fires
  • Farming and agricultural accidents
  • Industrial accidents
  • Libel and defamation
  • Mass torts
  • Premises liability
  • Railroad and Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) litigation
  • Religious and Not-for-profit litigation
  • Special Investigative Units
  • Transportation litigation



Our Casualty and Tort Litigation team has significant experience and involvement in professional associations, including the American Bar Association Board of Governors, the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), the Defense Research Institute (DRI), the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC); and Lawyers for Civil Justice (LCJ).



If your business, organization, or you as an individual need premier defense services from an industry-leading defense law firm, the dedicated legal minds at Heyl Royster are ready to provide you with the legal advice and legal services that you deserve. From casualty cases to civil rights, labor law, and more, our wide-ranging practices are staffed by experienced litigators ready to come to your defense.

We Are A Premier Casualty & Tort Defense Firm

Contact One Of Our Skilled Attorneys Today!

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NM v. AP, Tazewell County - Successful motion practice at the final pre-trial caused the Plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss their Tazewell County case with prejudice two weeks before trial. Dave Perkins and James Rooney filed a motion in limine to bar any evidence of the defendant's intoxication and the defendant's subsequent guilty plea to the offense of DUI. The court agreed that plaintiffs could not produce any evidence that the defendant caused or contributed to the rollover automobile accident. The absence of any evidence to prove that the defendant was negligent would have impermissibly allowed the jury to speculate that the defendant somehow caused the accident. The court further agreed that evidence of the defendant's intoxication was more prejudicial than probative in this instance.
Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, Circuit Court, 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 that 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.

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, the court ruled that evidence of any negligent acts leading up to the accident was 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 were relevant. Despite some of the aggravating evidence associated with the fire post-occurrence, the 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.

Crouse v. Benning, 2011 IL App (4th) 101005-U – Our client was involved in a rear-end collision with the plaintiff. She filed suit for personal injury, and the case went to trial in Sangamon County. Our defense was that, even though this was a rear-end collision, the plaintiff failed to signal a pending turn as a traffic control device turned green and that, as a result of that failure, the plaintiff either was solely at fault for the collision or more than 50% at fault so that her recovery would be barred. The jury returned a defense verdict. The fourth district appellate court affirmed the defense verdict. The plaintiff's petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court was denied.

Braucher v. Swagat Group LLC, 702 F. Supp. 2d 1032 (C.D. Ill. 2010) – Legionnaire's disease case against hotel operator.

West v. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Rule 23 Order (3d Dist. 2010) – Affirmed the trial court decision granting summary judgment on First Amendment grounds to ministers and religious entities in a defamation action.

Berry v. American Standard, Inc., 382 Ill. App. 3d 895, 888 N.E.2d 740 (5th Dist. 2008) – Denial of using the deceased plaintiff's discovery deposition as admissible evidence to defeat the defendant's summary judgment motion.

John Doe et al. v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria (2008), Circuit Court, Illinois – Trial court dismissed six abuse lawsuits with prejudice based on the statute of limitations. 

John Doe et al. v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria (2008), Circuit Court, Illinois – Trial court dismissed ten clergy sex abuse lawsuits with prejudice based on the statute of repose grounds.

Bush v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria, 351 Ill. App. 3d 588, 814 N.E.2d 135 (3d Dist. 2004), as modified on denial of reh'g (Aug. 26, 2004) – Affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the removed priest's breach of contract claim under the First Amendment. Also affirmed the release of the count for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Rocke v. Froelich, Circuit Court, McLean County, Illinois – Premises liability trial.

Zarr v. Kroger Co., 218 Ill. 2d 559, 850 N.E.2d 814 (2006) – Affirmed summary judgment in wrongful death premises liability case.

Thurman v. Hamm's Holiday Harbor, Circuit Court, Peoria County, Illinois – Represented the defendant in a wrongful death trial that resulted in a defense verdict.

Waterman v. Swisher , Circuit Court, Warren County, Illinois – Trial concerning the loss of an eye.

Hamm v. Schnorr, 321 Ill. App. 3d 1067, 797 N.E.2d 252 (4th Dist. 2001) – Affirmed summary judgment where the defendant's cattle injured the plaintiff on a motorcycle.

Romack v. R. Gingerich Co., 314 Ill. App. 3d 1065, 734 N.E.2d 29 (3d Dist. 2000) – Determination of whether a partial waiver of workers' compensation lien is a good faith settlement under the Illinois Contribution Act.

Fearnow and Colvin v. Steidinger, Circuit Court, Livingston County, Illinois – Represented the defendant in a multi-party death trial that resulted in a defense judgment against the driver.

Veltman v. Employers Mutual Casualty, Circuit CourtWill County, Illinois – In what is believed to be the first spoliation case tried after the Illinois Supreme Court's opinion of Boyd v. Travelers Insurance, a directed verdict was obtained for Employer's Mutual Casualty in connection with the loss of the quick coupler valve which was allegedly defective, causing an 18 years old employee to be blinded after exposure to anhydrous ammonia. The case was tried in two phases. The first phase focused on the product liability allegations against the maker of the quick coupler valve. In contrast, the second phase revolved around the loss of evidence and whether that loss impaired the parties' ability to adequately present their cases.

Bubb v. Springfield School Dist. 186, 167 Ill. 2d 372, 657 N.E.2d 887 (1995) – In a case of first impression, the court interpreted language in Section 3-106 of the Tort Immunity Act, finding that statutory recreational immunity is triggered by the recreational character of the property regardless of its primary purpose.

Fillpot v. Midway Airlines, inc., 261 Ill. App. 3d 237, 633 N.E.2d 237 (4th Dist. 1994) – Airline cannot be liable for slip and fall on ice on the tarmac.

Sheffer v. Springfield Airport Auth., 261 Ill. App. 3d 151, 632 N.E.2d 1069 (4th Dist. 1994) – The plaintiff slipped and fell on ice while walking on the tarmac at the Springfield airport from the plane to the gate. The court denied numerous attempts at dismissal, and the case went to trial. The jury found the plaintiff, awarded $301,000, and saw the airline 80% at fault and the airport 20% at fault. The airport settled for its proportional fault. We appealed on behalf of the airline. The fourth district appellate court reversed the trial court, finding that no duty existed because the fall was on a natural accumulation of snow and ice and that the airline's original motion for summary judgment should have been granted.

Page v. Blank, 262 Ill. App. 3d 580, 634 N.E.2d 1194 (4th Dist. 1994)– Discusses what duty a landowner owes to protect the safety of children. It concludes that a landowner owes no duty and is not liable to a 12-year-old who suffered a loss of vision in an eye when the child struck a nail with a hammer and bounced into his eye while building a skateboard ramp on the defendant's premises.

Moore v. Diamond-Star Motors, Circuit Court, McLean County, Illinois– Multi-party trial.

Buell v. Oakland Fire Protection District Board, 237 Ill. App. 3d 940, 605 N.E.2d 618 (4th Dist. 1992) – Applicability of Tort Immunity Act in contribution claim against an ambulance service.

Watson v. J.C. Penney Co., Inc., 237 Ill. App. 3d 976, 605 N.E.2d 723 (4th Dist. 1992) – The court refuses to overrule the natural accumulation rule, which was applied to preclude the plaintiff from obtaining a recovery for a slip and fall on a natural accumulation of ice.

Moore v. Swoboda, 213 Ill. App. 3d 217, 571 N.E.2d 1056 (4th Dist. 1991); appeal denied, 141 Ill. 2d. 544 (1991) – Trial and appeal; wrongful death jury verdict in favor of parents of deceased minor reversed on appeal due to parents' contributory fault in allowing a 14-year-old minor to drive dirt bike unsupervised in rural areas. The Wrongful Death Act was amended shortly after to eliminate the possibility of a beneficiary's contributory fault as a complete bar to any recovery.

Lower v. Rucker, 217 Ill. App. 3d 1, 576 N.E.2d 422 (2d Dist. 1991) – Reversal of trial court's order to produce a statement of witness/passenger, who was also insured under the same policy as the driver. The case involved a car/pedestrian collision at high speeds, was later tried before a jury and resulted in a defense verdict. (Jury Trial, 1994, Ogle County)

West v. Kirkham, 207 Ill. App. 3d 954, 566 N.E.2d 523 (4th Dist. 1991) – Recognized that the trial court might find the plaintiff contributorily negligent as a matter of law.

Goodknight v. Piraino, 197 Ill. App. 3d 319, 554 N.E.2d 1 (4th Dist. 1990) – Common law liability of a municipality for injuries sustained due to consumption of alcohol.

B & J Sales, Inc. v. Peterbilt, Arbitration, McLean County, Illinois, Case No. 03 AR 77 – Subrogation claim seeking recovery from truck maintenance provider.

Bhattacharya v. Venture Stores, Inc., and Unarco Industries, Inc., Circuit Court, Macon County, Illinois, Case No. 86 L 195 – Personal injury case involving an infant who was placed in a shopping cart that tipped over, resulting in bilateral femur fractures. We received a directed verdict after the completion of the plaintiff's case.

Bohlen v. Shaw and Tate, Circuit Court, Illinois – Trial; multiple car accidents resulting in an assessment of 10% fault against our insured driver.

Brown v. Crabtree, Circuit Court, Illinois – Auto/pedestrian collision case involving catastrophic injuries to the plaintiff. Result was the plaintiff's verdict, reduced by 50% for the plaintiff's contributory negligence. Net award was $750,000. The case was tried on a high/low agreement; this number fell within that range.

Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity v. Sound and Signal Electronics, William Murphy, individually and d/b/a Sound and Signal Electronics, SecurityLink, Inc. and SecurityLink, Inc., f/k/a SecurityLink from Ameritech f/k/a Ameritech Monitoring Services, Inc., and ADT Security Services Inc., and TYCO International (US) Inc. – Mediation of significant property damage claim involving destruction of a fraternity house fire; represented fire alarm monitoring company at mediation and resolved case following lengthy discovery and mediation/settlement discussions for five months. 

Dwayne Hoffer v. American Family Insurance, Circuit Court, Tazewell County, Illinois, Case No. 95 L 345 – A breach of contract and bad faith case against the insurer for alleged improper denial of a theft claim. The verdict was not guilty.

Estate of Leon Rademacher v. Teledyne Industries, Inc., Teledyne Continental Motor, et al. Circuit Court, Illinois– Estate brought Wrongful Death and Survival Act case on behalf of a successful farmer, young husband and father against aviation mechanic and other defendants alleging negligence and product liability caused plane operated by a friend to crash land. Following a six-week trial, the jury returned a not-guilty verdict on behalf of our client.

Gibson v. Village of Oquawka, Circuit Court, Henderson County, Illinois, Case No. 98 L 6 – A premises liability case wherein the plaintiff sustained an injury that resulted in bilateral knee surgeries. The verdict was not guilty.

Jeramie Morris as special administrator of the Estate of Kimberly Gregorich, deceased and the Estate of John F. Parrett IV deceased and Elizabeth Johnson, Individually and as special administrator of the Estate of Inara Parrett, deceased v. Nathan E. Merrill and Martin Co. Excavating  - Mediation – Truck driver ran stop sign resulting in deaths of an 18-month-old child, child's father and child's grandmother. The child's mother survived but suffered various injuries. Retained by an insurance carrier to help navigate through potential bad faith issues. Complex pre-suit investigation with numerous issues explored, ultimately resulting in a favorable settlement at mediation within our case evaluation.

Kohl v. Miller, Circuit Court, Peoria County, Illinois – Retrial of case originally defended by another firm and reversed on the 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. The plaintiff claimed the defendant was negligent for driving too fast and not breaking up hay bales. Plaintiff suffered back and neck injuries and numbness in the left arm and fingers, resulting in disability and requiring early retirement from his job. Result: Not guilty.

Land v. Montgomery Health Care, Circuit Court, Illinois – 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.

Massengale v. K-Mart Corporation, Circuit Court, Illinois – Trial; not guilty jury verdict for an alleged slip and fall on spilled motor oil.

Melvina Hopkins, as Mother and Next Friend of Charles Lee, a Minor, et al. v. Bergman, et al.,  Settlement– Mother and next friend of Minor brought a negligence case against the driver of a local school district school bus and driver of a private vehicle following an accident where elementary school student stepped off of the bus and was hit and injured by the private vehicle. After extensive discovery and mediation, the parties reached a favorable settlement agreement.

Patton v. Prospect Foods, Inc., Circuit Court, Illinois – Trial; minimal jury award for a plaintiff who grocery store employees allegedly assaulted after claimed theft of store items.

VanHoose v. Phillip Environmental, Circuit Court, Illinois  Structural Work Act case involving whether the client provided an unsafe workplace when the plaintiff used a man lift to move a steel plate and whether our client was "in charge of plaintiff's work;" trial lasted five days. The result was the plaintiff's verdict - 90% fault of third party defendant, 3% to the property owner, and 7% to our client, a subcontractor on the premises.

Vivian Murphy, Executor of the Estate of Joseph E. Murphy (Deceased) v. Ron Cline Trucking and James Stephens, Circuit Court, DeWitt County, Illinois – A wrongful death case wherein it was alleged that the plaintiff sustained a subdural hematoma from a motor vehicle accident which eventually caused his death. The verdict was not guilty.

Williams v. Old English Inn, Circuit Court, McLean County, Illinois – The plaintiff was a patron in the defendant's tavern when a shelf supporting a 19-inch CRT television set and other items fell. The heavy television severely struck the plaintiff, a 27-year-old district sales rep, on the head and shoulder. Plaintiff suffered cervical and head injuries, loss of consciousness, significantly reduced function, pain, and numbness of her left arm and hand from thoracic outlet syndrome. They asked the jury for $471,000+. Result: Not guilty.

Wilson v. Norfolk & Western Railway Company, 187 Ill. 2d 369, 718 N.E.2d 172 (1999) – The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in the case of first impression that a railroad employee must prove physical contact or the threat of physical contact to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress under the FELA.
Successfully defended a municipality in a jury trial in Franklin County, Illinois. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant for damages alleged to have been caused by the plaintiff's fall into a water meter pit owned and maintained by the defendant. The jury found the defendant.
Successfully obtained summary judgment for a municipality and a police officer in litigation brought by an employee of an independent contractor who was struck by a vehicle while painting a crosswalk, including the successful defense of an appeal to the Fifth District Appellate Court.
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