Heyl Royster

Medical Malpractice

Heyl Royster's long history in defense of medical malpractice claims has permitted us to develop a cadre of premier trial attorneys who have tried more cases to verdict than any other downstate medical defense firm and have an unmatched record of success. 

Heyl Royster has defended medical malpractice cases for more than 70 years, as far back as when these claims first swept through downstate Illinois. Our team regularly defends physicians, medical groups, hospitals, health systems, medical colleges, nurses, extended providers, and dentists. Heyl Royster's medical malpractice defense attorneys are serious, committed trial lawyers who employ a client-first strategy in defending these complicated cases, which often involve catastrophic injuries. 

Having attorneys and offices in a variety of locations provides us with a deep knowledge of the venues where we try cases - an understanding which comes from living and working in the same communities where the medical care is being criticized.  

Heyl Royster has developed a formidable practice group comprised of experienced and seasoned trial lawyers. Our lawyers regularly meet and communicate with each other to stay abreast of new legal developments, aggressive strategies employed by plaintiff's lawyers, evaluation and use of experts, and creative approaches to developing effective defense strategies and trial presentations. The firm's teamwork philosophy has enabled Heyl Royster to aggressively and successfully defend medical malpractice cases throughout Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

Our substantial experience defending these cases has earned us the respect of excellent, well-credentialed expert witnesses and consultants to assist in evaluating and trialing cases. Our lawyers are focused on the timely assessment and resolution of these claims and lawsuits. We are prepared to defend these cases through trial and, if necessary, any potential appeal. It is common to find the lawyers in our practice group in trial somewhere many times per year. 

We encourage our medical provider clients to work closely with our trial attorneys to understand, communicate and advocate the defense of these cases. Often, our best defense revolves around our clients' credibility, experience, and insights. Our lawyers are skilled in preparing clients to advocate for themselves effectively and credibly. This philosophy, and our extensive trial experience, have allowed us to develop a reputation as proven leaders and formidable lawyers in the field of defending medical professionals. Our caseload volume not only gives us depth and experience but also leads to natural efficiencies for our clients.

Heyl Royster also defends healthcare providers and entities against claims of professional negligence arising in correctional facility settings. When prisoners and pre-trial detainees file federal civil rights suits asserting that healthcare providers were deliberately indifferent/objectively unreasonable to their serious medical needs, they often allege professional negligence against the same healthcare providers. Our firm has an entire practice group dedicated to defending both civil rights and professional negligence claims.



The medical malpractice attorneys at Heyl Royster provide world-class and cost-effective legal services for clients involved in matters protecting your name and reputation. With a proven success record in all aspects of medical malpractice litigation, our clients can rest assured that their cases will be given the proper and thorough legal representation that they deserve at Heyl Royster.

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Obtained a defense verdict for a bariatric surgeon following a jury trial in which Plaintiff alleged that the surgeon’s reversal of a prior bariatric surgical procedure, hernia repair and fundoplication led to splenic rupture, uncontrolled bleeding and 2 emergency surgeries. During the first emergency surgery, the surgeon encountered 4 liters of blood in the abdominal cavity. Plaintiff asserted liability on a traditional theory of negligence as well as under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. The jury quickly returned a complete defense verdict on behalf of the firm’s clients.

Obtained summary judgment in a medical malpractice case involving allegations against a central Illinois provider and her practice group. Heyl Royster's attorneys strategically positioned the case through expert discovery, ultimately securing judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts.

Secured a trial victory on behalf of a central Illinois healthcare provider and a central Illinois practice group in a case involving allegations that negligent treatment resulted in a recurrence of breast cancer, a bilateral mastectomy, subsequent revision surgeries, and an unfavorable cosmetic outcome. Although the plaintiffs suggested a verdict of $2M, the verdict was in favor of the defendants on all counts.

Secured a defense-favorable verdict in an admitted liability case. The damages assessed were within the predicted verdict range and $15-20 million less than the plaintiff’s asked.

Obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a central Illinois radiologist and his practice group in a case involving allegations that the radiologist failed to appropriately communicate the results of a CT scan. Although the jury returned an award of $9.1M against the co-Defendant, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of our clients on all counts.

Secured a defense verdict on behalf of an internal medicine physician and a multi-specialty physician’s group in a case involving an alleged failure to timely diagnose a pulmonary embolism.

Secured a defense verdict on behalf of a hospitalist in a case involving an alleged failure to diagnose H1N1 and provide antiviral medication to the plaintiff’s decedent.

Successfully defended a medical malpractice case that was brought against two defendant obstetricians and a medical clinic. The plaintiffs alleged that one defendant obstetrician failed to properly diagnose intrauterine growth restriction (“IUGR”) in one twin fetus and implement additional antenatal testing, while the other obstetrician failed to perform a growth ultrasound and a C-section immediately upon the mother’s presentation to labor and delivery with premature rupture of membranes. Plaintiffs contended that these deviations resulted in one of the twins being stillborn. At the end of a 10-day jury trial, obtained a directed verdict in favor of the obstetrician and obtained a jury verdict in favor of the medical clinic for the actions of the second obstetrician.

Represented seven clinical therapists in an inadequate mental health treatment claim. The court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion and agreed that the plaintiff could not support his claim by demonstrating that any of the individual defendants failed to provide him sufficient mental health treatment. The defendants provided evidence, including the plaintiff’s clinical progress notes which established the plaintiff’s engagement in the treatment process, to defeat the plaintiff’s claim.

Successfully defended a family practice physician in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the widow and four children of a 45-year-old non-smoker. The lawsuit claimed that the family practice physician failed to diagnose the patient/decedent’s lung cancer. Based on the patient’s clinical presentation, pulmonary function test, and response to asthma medications, the defendant physician diagnosed the patient/decedent with asthma in January of 2009. In January of 2010, the patient went to the Mayo Clinic on self-referral and was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer with metastasis to the brain. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation but ultimately passed away in 2015 as a result of lung cancer. Plaintiff sought recovery for survival damages, loss of consortium and wrongful death, and at the end of a more than two-week trial, plaintiffs asked for an itemized verdict of more than $10 million. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning a verdict for the defense.

Secured a defense verdict on behalf of an obstetrician in a case involving an alleged brachial plexus injury from a shoulder dystocia encountered during delivery.

Secured a defense verdict on behalf of a gynecologist in a case involving alleged injuries and death following a laparoscopy with bipolar cauterization of fallopian tubes.

Successfully defended emergency room physician following death of patient from aortic dissection.

Successfully defended pediatrician following the death of a small child due to undiagnosed appendicitis.

Successfully defended an obstetrician in cerebral palsy/catastrophic injury case in which damages were assessed against co-defendant in excess of $35 million.

Wrongful death action against two trauma surgeons who failed to diagnose pulmonary embolism in 38-year-old mother of two. The jury returned a not guilty verdict. There was no appeal.

Defense verdict in favor of surgeon/intensivist, where plaintiff alleged failure to timely diagnose a post operative  bleed and timely return to surgery following roux-en-y gastric bypass, resulting in code blue and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy with permanent neurological deficit in 50 year old male.

Defense verdict in favor of pathologist, where plaintiff alleged failure to diagnose and failure to warn surgeon of peri-rectal neuroendocrine tumor in 42 year old female resulting in metastatic disease and death.

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.

Defense verdict in malpractice case involving intra-cranial abscess.

Defense verdict in federal civil rights case involving back surgery.

Defense verdict in favor of gastroenterologist, where plaintiff’s sigmoid colon was perforated during diagnostic colonoscopy, resulting in emergent laparotomy and sigmoid colon resection and subsequent incisional hernia repair.

Defense verdict in favor of colorectal surgeon, where plaintiff developed severe incontinence following hemorrhoidectomy and sphincterotomy. Plaintiff alleged that incontinence was caused by an unnecessary sphincterotomy, and that informed consent was not provided for the sphincterotomy because it was not contained within the consent to treatment.

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.

Medical malpractice action alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat diabetes. Obtained summary judgement for defendant medical clinic and defendant hospital.

Medical malpractice action alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat cauda equina syndrome. Obtained summary judgment for defendant hospital.

Obtained defense verdict for general surgeon following jury trial in which plaintiffs alleged that the surgeon failed to find and repair a transection or injury to the patient's small bowel following performance of emergency appendectomy leading to sepsis, peritonitis, medically-induced coma, placement of ileostomy and the development of significant and permanent gastrointestinal issues. Plaintiffs sought recovery for substantial medical bills, as well pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of a normal life and loss of consortium.

Obtained not guilty verdict for chiropractor whose manipulation allegedly caused herniated disc.

Obtained not guilty verdict in favor of orthopedic surgeon and nurse following bad result from surgery.

Wrongful death defense verdict in retained sponge in heart of 38 year-old policeman. 

The decedent was a 47 year-old deputy sheriff who was hospitalized to investigate potential liver disease. During the hospitalization, he sustained a colon puncture occurring during an invasive procedure performed by our defendant doctor. He developed peritonitis and died from consequent complications. Result: Not guilty.

Defense verdict in wrongful death of 38 year-old during cardiac rehab. 

Medical Malpractice Action against Orthopedic Surgeon. Plaintiff was a 35 year-old registered nurse who fell at home and fractured her wrist. Our doctor set her wrist but the fracture subsequently slipped, resulting in a re-reduction and also application of pins and plaster. Plaintiff claimed instead that an external fixator was required to properly treat the fracture, that the foreign-trained doctor defendant was not properly trained and the treatment used was out of date. When the pins and plaster were removed the fracture again slipped, which left the plaintiff with a permanently and severely deformed left wrist and hand, with pain and traumatic arthritis that precluded her return to work as a nurse. Result: Not guilty.

Medical Malpractice Action involving loss of vision. The plaintiff developed a severe glaucoma following a cataract extraction by defendant ophthalmologist, allegedly resulting in complete vision loss in her left eye. Plaintiff claimed that the defendant ophthalmologist was negligent in failing to diagnose and properly treat the glaucoma which resulted in her vision loss. Result: Not guilty.

Defense verdict in wrongful death from post colonoscopy bowel perforation.

Not guilty verdict defending wrongful death medical malpractice against a trauma surgeon for failure to diagnose bleeding pancreas in 20-year-old male.

Not guilty verdict defending a lawyer who failed to timely file a medical malpractice claim.

Defense verdict in wrongful death of policeman from Lidocaine overdose.

Obtained not guilty verdict in wrongful death claim for two trauma surgeons who failed to diagnose pulmonary embolism in 38-year-old mother of two.

Defense verdict in severe brachial plexus injury from streptokinase catheter. 

Defense verdict in wrongful death of father of 4 from bowel infarction and ischemic mesenteric artery post lap cholecystectomy. 

Defense verdict in wrongful death post lung lobe resection.

Defense verdict in wrongful death of 53 year-old mother post gastric bypass surgery.

Defense verdict in failed hip pinning resulting in total hip replacement and permanent pain and limp.

Avichail ex rel. v. St. John's Mercy Health System, 686 F.3d 548 (8th Cir. 2012) – Not guilty verdict for a pediatric nurse in a case of a claimed brain injury following a period of depressed oxygen saturation levels. It was contended that the nurse failed to continuously monitor oxygen saturation values as ordered by the attending surgeon and that as a result, plaintiff sustained a brain injury affecting cognition and behavior. Verdict affirmed on appeal by Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Helfers-Beitz v. Degleman, 406 Ill. App. 3d 264, 939 N.E.2d 1087 (3d Dist. 2010) – Hospital not responsible for physician's acts of sexual misconduct nor for negligent hiring, credentialing or retention where hospital made reasonable inquiry.

Post v. Methodist Medical Center of Illinois (3d Dist. 2008) – Interpretation of 735 ILCS 5/622 certificate of merit requirements. 

Case v. Galesburg Cottage Hospital, 227 Ill. 2d 207, 880 N.E.2d 171 (2007) – Time that elapses between voluntary dismissal of a plaintiff's complaint and its refiling pursuant to the limitation saving statute is not to be considered by a court when ruling on a motion to dismiss based on plaintiff's failure to exercise reasonable diligence to obtain service.

Minnesota Lawyers Mut. Ins. Co. v. Larson, 06-CV-074-WDS, 2007 WL 2688443 (S.D. Ill. Sept. 11, 2007) – Obtained summary judgment in declaratory action interpreting "claims made" insurance policy.

Schur v. Cantrell 386 Ill. App. 3d 1138, 970 N.E.2d 632 (5th Dist. 2008) – Claim that a family practitioner failed to treat unstable angina in a patient complaining of chest pain. The patient had a normal EKG, along with a host of other non-cardiac symptoms but suffered a fatal coronary event the day following his visit with the defendant doctor. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the physician.

Paszkiewicz v. Microsurgery and Brain Research Institute (U.S. District Court, Eastern Division of Missouri, Jury Trial 2004) – Claimed spinal cord injury during back surgery alleged to have resulted from improper use of a surgical support frame and associated medical devices. Jury verdict in favor of the defendants following a two week trial.

Coyne v. OSF Healthcare System, 332 Ill. App. 3d 717, 773 N.E.2d 732 (3d Dist. 2002) – Medical resident, who was no longer a resident of the state but was served as respondent in discovery in medical malpractice action, was subject to personal jurisdiction in the state; medical resident resided in the state and was employed at hospital during the time that plaintiff's cause of action arose, medical resident's designation as a respondent in discovery arose directly from his employment at hospital, and medical resident purposefully availed himself of the privilege of conducting his work-related activities in the state.

Warren v. Burris,325 Ill. App. 3d 599, 758 N.E.2d 889 (4th Dist. 2001) – Interpreted statute of limitation issue in a medical malpractice case.

Kennedy v. Crusader Clinic, Circuit Court, Winnebago County, Illinois – Trial of what was one of the first "false positive" HIV tests reported in Illinois. Plaintiff sought emotional damages for three years where he believed he was HIV positive, contending that the standard of care required a confirmatory retest. One of the principle defenses was the testimony of a former employee of the C.D.C. that shortly after the tests were developed, the tests were found to be very reliable, with low "false positives" rates. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants.

Stricklin v. Becan, 293 Ill. App. 3d 886, 689 N.E.2d 328 (4th Dist. 1997) – Interpreted scope of peer review documents under the Illinois Medical Studies Act.

Zinser v. Rose, 245 Ill. App. 3d 881, 614 N.E.2d 1259 (3d Dist. 1993) – A group of chiropractors brought RICO counts against chiropractic review service alleging only indirect injury from damage to reputation, good will and income from patient's insurer's refusals to pay indemnities to patients; RICO complaint dismissed as it did not specify time and place of use of mail or telephone to defraud, gave only general reference to parties to whom fraudulent communications were directed, and failed to allege any cancellations of chiropractors' services or patient refusals to pay bills as result of review service's activity. Plaintiff chiropractors could sustain causes of action under both Consumer Fraud Act and Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Gill v. Aquino, MD (1993) – The plaintiff underwent abdominal surgery in Springfield and was discharged. Not feeling better, he sought care with Dr. Aquino, his family physician and our client. He ultimately had a significant complication that required extensive corrective abdominal surgery. The case went to a jury trial, which found that Dr. Aquino’s delay in sending the plaintiff back to his original surgeon for follow up was the proximate cause of his injuries. The plaintiff was awarded $55,000 and found to be 50% at fault for not going back to his surgeon on his own accord. The original surgeon and hospital settled before trial for $35,000, therefore the net verdict against the doctor was less than the setoff and the doctor owed nothing on the award. The verdict and comparative fault decisions were upheld by the fourth district appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court.

Batten v. Retz, 182 Ill. App. 3d 425, 538 N.E.2d 179 (3d Dist. 1989) – It was not an abuse of discretion by the trial court in a medical malpractice action to dismiss plaintiff's complaint with prejudice and deny leave to amend even though required certificate of merit was only two days late in being filed.

Moss v. Gibbons, 180 Ill. App. 3d 632, 536 N.E.2d 125 (4th Dist. 1989) – Prisoner's medical report filed in connection with medical malpractice action against physician and radiologist alleging negligent failure to diagnose fracture of left orbital floor was insufficient because it failed to identify reasons for reviewing health professional's determination that there was a meritorious cause of action against defendants. Further, complaint for alleged negligent treatment during incarceration was properly dismissed notwithstanding prisoner's claim that he was under a legal disability, namely imprisonment that should preclude dismissal.

Adkins v. Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, 129 Ill. 2d 497, 544 N.E.2d 733 (1989) – A physician had his hospital privileges suspended in part and not renewed in part. The Illinois Supreme Court found that the suspension of the physician was proper because the physician had notice of the claims against him and the hospital committee took action that it was authorized to take under the hospital bylaws. The Illinois Supreme Court also found that the hospital did not properly follow its bylaws when it denied the application for privileges renewal, however, that issue was rendered moot because of the proper imposition of the summary suspension.

Bishop v. S.B., M.D. (1989), Circuit Court, LaSalle County, Illinois – Represented the defendant in a four-week trial of a medical malpractice claim involving loss of limbs from diabetic vascular insufficiency. The trial resulted in a defense verdict.

Fawcett v. Reinertsen, 131 Ill. 2d 380, 546 N.E.2d 558 (1989) – Extent of allowable questioning of a defendant physician.

Marcin v. Kipfer, 117 Ill. App. 3d 1065, 454 N.E.2d 370 (4th Dist. 1983) – Appellate Court reversed defense verdict holding former patient could not sit as juror.

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