Heyl Royster

Theresa Powell

Office Managing Partner & Shareholder
Springfield, IL

Joined Firm in 1998

Theresa holds the local record for the quickest defense verdict in the Springfield Central District at 7 minutes. 

  • Springfield Office Managing Partner
  • Extensive litigation and trial experience
  • Obtained more than 600 successful summary judgment motions in civil rights matters
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Theresa Powell

Attorney in Springfield, IL

Theresa is the Managing Partner of the firm's Springfield office and has more than 27 years of practice representing federal and state court clients across central and southern Illinois. Handling claims in numerous practice areas, including civil rights, medical malpractice, casualty, and environmental, she has represented law enforcement, medical, and licensed professionals, taken more than 35 cases to trial with positive results, and resolved many more claims by summary judgment motions, voluntary dismissals, and favorable settlements.

Additionally, Theresa has significant experience defending employment law claims involving age, gender, and race discrimination. She has handled retaliation and interference claims under FMLA and Workers' Compensation-based retaliation claims. Her employment law litigation clients include hospitals, public school districts, and nationally known corporations. She successfully defended a sex discrimination claim filed by a female physician against an area hospital after defeating a preliminary injunction.

Theresa currently focuses her practice on defending claims filed in federal court and state law claims removed to federal court via diversity jurisdiction. These claims primarily involve federal civil rights litigation filed against state actors such as law enforcement officers and clinical providers who provide various services to confined persons in the state of Illinois.



J.D., Southern Illinois University School of Law, cum laude

B.A., Eastern Illinois University, Political Science and French, summa cum laude

Livingston Lord Scholar

Licensure(s) and Admission(s)

State Courts of Illinois

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois

Professional Affiliations

Federal Bar Association, Civil Law Division

Defense of Governmental Entities Section, Chair (2016 – 2017)

Illinois State Bar Association

Sangamon County Bar Association


French, Conversational

Community Involvement

Big Brothers Big Sisters


  • 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 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 be in need of 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.
  • Smego v. J___, P___ and U___ (2013) – Defended psychology/mental health workers in a jury trial where the plaintiff, a committed sex offender, alleged that his constitutional rights were violated by not placing him in another treatment group at his request, months after he had referenced inappropriate sexual contact (a sexual assault) with another member of his current group. Plaintiff claimed the defendants' actions were also retaliation for filing lawsuits against various persons at the facility. Jury found in favor of the Defendants.
  • Abbott v. S___ (2013) – Represented a Sangamon County deputy at trial in which the plaintiff claimed that the deputy used an unreasonable amount of force when he tazed her a second time in his efforts to arrest her in conjunction with the arrest of her son. The jury found in favor of the defendant.
  • Orr v. Wexford et al. – Successful in obtaining a voluntary dismissal with prejudice of two multi-million dollar class action claims against client where the plaintiff was unable to respond to defense motions asserting plaintiff lacked evidence to support any of the factual allegations in the case on behalf of the named plaintiffs. This case was dismissed in the summer of 2011 and is still pending today against the remaining defendants.
  • Bailey v. Sangamon County – In this claim alleging deliberate indifference against the Sangamon County Jail nursing staff, a defense verdict was obtained in 33 minutes where the jury found that the plaintiff failed to prove that the jail detainee suffered from a severe medical need at the time of her encounter with the nurse.
  • Gay v. Dr. C – Verdict in favor of Dr. C in a well-publicized trial in the Southern District of Illinois. Plaintiff alleged that Dr. C was deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs when he ordered that the plaintiff be kept in restraints for numerous hours following the plaintiff's repeated claims that he would cut himself if allowed to be free to do so. Plaintiff also asserted that he should have been placed in restraints at times to prevent him from cutting himself while incarcerated.
  • Washington v. City of Springfield, 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 trial was $1.6 million.
  • Johnson v. Doughty 433 F.3d 1001 (7th Cir. 2006) – Decision to provide a conservative course of care for a hernia rather than surgery is not deliberate indifference as a matter of law in light of evidence that the defendant physicians regularly monitored the hernia.
  • Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675 (7th Cir. 2008) – Delay in referring a patient to an outside physician did not constitute deliberate indifference where physician Dr. Kayira treated the patient's complaints based on clinical and diagnostic findings; the court distinguishes physician's care from facts in Greeno v. Daley wherein physician refused to treat the patient after documenting that patient had cancer.
  • Taylor v. Walker, 537 F. Supp. 2d 966 (C.D. Ill. 2008) – Court found that the nurse lacked personal involvement and/or authority to address the plaintiff's complaints concerning exposure to second-hand smoke in the cell house.



The Essentials on Police Litigation: From Start to Finish,” National Business Institute (2016)

“I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me: An Eye on the Inside of Nursing Homes,” Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2016)

“Avoiding Police Liability,” Illinois Municipal League Municipal Attorneys Seminar (2016)

“Medical Cannabis & Concealed Carry,” Springfield Chamber of Commerce (2015)

“Hostile Work Environment,” Central Illinois Chapter Society for Human Resources Management Legislative/HR Conference (2015)

“Preparing Your Case and Your Client for Trial,” Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (2014)

“Liability Issues Training,” McDonough County, Illinois Sheriff's Office (2014)

“Claims Handling Basics for Recognizing & Handling Civil Rights Torts,” Heyl Royster 21st Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2006)

“Don’t Hit the Wall: Chronic Pain Plaintiff,” Heyl Royster 19th Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2004)

“Wrongful Death & Survival Act Claims,” Heyl Royster 18th Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2003)


Grievances: Turn Lemons into Lemonade and Reduce Legal Risk,” CorrectCare Journal (2016)

"Hindsight is Bittersweet: Quality Improvements Studies as Evidence in Inmate Litigation," CorrectCare Journal (2015)


  • Leading Lawyer by Law Bulletin Media℠ – Employment Law: Management, Medical Malpractice Defense Law; Professional Malpractice Defense
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