Heyl Royster

Civil Rights & Correctional Healthcare Litigation

Adept at defending governmental entities and their officials when entwined in an intersection with the law.

Heyl Royster's roster of civil litigation attorneys is adept at defending governmental entities and their officials against civil lawsuits claiming civil rights violations and related claims of correctional medical malpractice.

Heyl Royster's Civil Rights & Correctional Healthcare Litigation team has extensive experience defending governmental entities and their officials against civil lawsuits claiming civil rights violations. If your municipality or governmental agency/institution finds itself entangled in such a legal dispute, the civil defense attorneys of Heyl Royster are ready to provide you with skilled legal advice and steadfast defense.


  • Governmental "Speech" & Personnel Cases

Public employers must grapple with unique questions in the civil rights arena, as they are simultaneously an employer and the government and are thus capable of violating constitutional rights. Accordingly, public employers must be mindful not only of civil rights statutes applicable to all employers but also of the unique constitutional claims that can be brought against public employers (such as First Amendment retaliation claims and claims relating to political patronage). The skilled civil rights attorneys at the law firm of Heyl Royster have extensive experience providing public employers with exceptional legal services to defend against these issues.

  • Law Enforcement Defense

We defend law enforcement officers and local governmental entities from civil rights claims, including section 1983 lawsuits alleging excessive force/police brutality, improper search and seizure/Fourth Amendment violations, false arrest, malicious prosecution, and fabrication of evidence. We also defend against claims arising from accidents caused by high-speed pursuits.

  • Legislative Enactments

Our team defends statutes and ordinances against challenges to their constitutionality, such as when a plaintiff seeks to invalidate an ordinance for allegedly violating their civil rights or claims a legislative act was motivated by an unconstitutional motive.

  • Prisoner Litigation

We defend all claims arising from the correctional context, be it claims against correctional officers for excessive force or deliberate indifference; claims against institutions, such as a Sheriff's Office or a medical corporation, for unconstitutional policies or practices; or claims against medical and mental health professionals relating to the care provided to inmates incarcerated at correctional facilities. In addition, we defend claims of medical malpractice against medical health professionals practicing inside prisons and jails.



With a stable of experienced attorneys, Heyl Royster law firm is ready to provide your government entity and its employees with the dedicated and effective defense your civil case deserves. From upholding municipal laws and government ordinances against challenges to defending correctional and police officers against allegations of civil rights violations, our team of expert attorneys is prepared to assist you. If an individual has filed a complaint against your government entity, contact us for a consultation.


Contact One Of Our Skilled Attorneys Today!



Bruce v. [Deputy Sheriff] (2018) – Successfully defended a County Deputy Sheriff in a jury trial in the U.S. District Court of the Central District against a §1983 claim. Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the officer claiming that he violated her constitutional rights when he drove her to the hospital for a mental health evaluation in 2011. Plaintiff alleged that as a result, she was later referred to a Behavior Center for treatment, which she claimed was frightening and humiliating. The defense presented evidence suggesting that the plaintiff voluntarily went with the officer to the hospital – where she was evaluated and found to need hospitalization. The jury was posed with special interrogatories and found that no unlawful seizure occurred. At the end of a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in the officer's favor.

Jane Doe v. The Board of Education of Hall High School District 502, Daniel Oest, Patricia Lunn, Gary Vicini, The City of Spring Valley, Illinois and Douglas Bernabei, 05-1348, 2006 WL 2523497 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 29, 2006). This civil rights lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Central District of Illinois. A high school teacher, Jane Doe, was accused of engaging in sexual relations with a male student. Chief Bernabei conducted an investigation that resulted in Doe being charged with various criminal offenses. The school terminated Doe's employment, and she incurred approximately $300,000 in expenses defending against the criminal charges. Doe was found not guilty in the criminal trial. Afterward, Doe filed a civil rights suit against our clients, Chief Bernabei and The City of Spring Valley. The civil rights Complaint requested $40,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000,000 in punitive damages. During discovery, the plaintiff made a settlement demand of $9,500,000. We obtained summary judgment in 6 of the seven counts, but the trial court denied the entry of summary judgment with respect to a count alleging false arrest. We filed an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Appellate Court, which reversed the trial court, thereby disposing of all claims directed against Chief Bernabei and The City of Spring Valley. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a writ of certiorari in 2011.

Estate of Beavers v. Champaign County v. Evercom Systems, CIV. 06-2121, 2007 WL 2681098 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2007) – The estate of a former inmate that committed suicide brought a Section 1983 civil rights lawsuit in federal court alleging that County defendants and a private telephone company were deliberately indifferent to the inmate's safety. After thorough discovery and mediation, the parties reached a favorable settlement agreement.

City of East St. Louis v. Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial Circuit St. Clair County, IL, 986 F.2d 1142 (7th Cir. 1993) – The federal district court properly entered Rule 11 sanctions against the plaintiff's counsel for bringing suit against a judicial circuit.

Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001 (7th Cir. 2006) – Denials of prisoner's requested hernia surgery did not constitute deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition.

Copeland v. County of Macon, Ill., 403 F.3d 929 (7th Cir. 2005) – Corrections officer was not acting within the scope of his employment within the meaning of the tort immunity statute when he recruited and encouraged inmates to commit beating of a pretrial detainee accused of child abuse.

Merriweather v. Snyder, et al., Circuit Court, Illinois– Jury verdict for defendants on claims of deliberate indifference to serious medical and mental health needs.

Collins Bey v. Snyder, et al., Circuit Court, Illinois– Jury verdict for defendants on claims of violation of equal protection rights.

Fields v. Maue, et al., Circuit Court, Illinois  Jury verdict for defendants on claims of excessive force.

Fillmore v. Page, et al., Circuit Court, Illinois – Court verdict for defendants on claims of excessive force.

Washington and Jenkins v. City of Springfield, et al., 07-3075, 2011 WL 98941 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 7, 2011) – Defense verdict in a highly publicized federal jury trial in Springfield, Illinois. The Plaintiffs alleged that Springfield Police Detectives conspired and falsely arrested them. The plaintiffs' home was searched after Springfield Detectives searched their trash and found evidence of drug activity. Over half a pound of cocaine was found in the home during the search. The plaintiffs alleged the Defendants planted the cocaine and falsified documents used to obtain the search warrant. Following a two-week trial, the jury returned verdicts in favor of all defendants. The Plaintiffs' final settlement demand before the trial was $1,600,000.

Escobedo v. Miller, et al., 08-2017, 2009 WL 2605260 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 25, 2009) – Plaintiff, an Illinois Department of Corrections inmate, alleged that Dr. Ameji violated his constitutional rights by not providing medical treatment when he allegedly suffered a stroke. The introduction of the plaintiff's medical history revealed that the plaintiff had suffered a massive stroke decades prior and was merely suffering from residual side effects. Plaintiff's pretrial settlement demand was $500,000. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Ameji. Additionally, the Court awarded the defense their costs incurred in defending the suit.

Frizzell v. Szabo, 08-3147, 2010 WL 3239453 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 16, 2010), aff'd, 647 F.3d 698 (7th Cir. 2011) – Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Sangamon County Deputy's use of a TASER constituted an unreasonable amount of force in his efforts to arrest him. Plaintiff claimed that as a result of this arrest, he suffered damages. While attempting to arrest the plaintiff, the plaintiff purposely tried to avoid him by running away and entering a shopping center. As a result, the defendant deployed his TASER. Plaintiff's last settlement demand before trial was $75,000. The jury returned a verdict of $1 in favor of the plaintiff.

© 2024 Heyl Royster. All Rights Reserved.