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Heyl Royster

 

Practices

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DEFENSE

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Heyl Royster has been a premier medical malpractice defense law firm in Illinois for decades. The firm name is synonymous with successful medical malpractice decisions from trial and appellate courts throughout the state. Our clients include private physicians, medical groups, medical colleges, hospitals, medical centers, nurses and dentists.

Our statewide offices have extensive involvement in defending medical malpractice and allied professional liability claims. As a result we have developed contacts with excellent expert witnesses and consultants to assist in the evaluation and trial of cases. Our lawyers are focused on the timely assessment and disposition of claims or lawsuits when that is advisable. However, the extensive trial experience and record of successful verdicts by our lawyers is evidence of our commitment to defending our clients when a verdict is preferable to settlement.

We encourage our client physicians to work closely with our trial attorneys and expert witnesses in a partnership that develops a solid defense strategy. This philosophy has allowed us to be a leader in the field of defending medical professionals. Our caseload volume not only gives us depth and experience, but efficiency as well.

Our appellate department is one of the most active in the state. It handles appeals not only from our trial attorneys but also from other firms and clients who retain us. The attorneys in our appellate department have handled numerous professional liability cases of significant precedential importance in Illinois, such as Witherell v. Weimer, 113 Ill. 2d 586 (1987), Fawcett v. Reinertsen, 131 Ill. 2d 380 (1989), Owens v. Stokoe, 115 Ill. 2d 177 (1986), Roach v. Springfield Clinic, 157 Ill. 2d 29 (1993), and Renslow v. Mennonite Hospital, 67 Ill. 2d 348 (1977), to name a few.

Our firm’s long history in the defense of medical malpractice claims has permitted us to develop a cadre of premier trial attorneys. They have tried more cases to verdict than any other downstate medical defense firm with an unmatched record of success. Our attorneys recognize the unique character of medical malpractice cases and stand ready to assist physicians and other professionals who find themselves involved with litigation.

Representative Clients

  • Carle Clinic
  • CNA
  • Galesburg Cottage Hospital
  • Illinois Provider Trust
  • ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company
  • ProAssurance
  • Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • The Medical Protective Company
  • UnityPoint Health – Methodist

Significant Cases

  • Young v. ___ (C.D. Ill 2017) - 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.
  • Avichail v. Jones 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 (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 2007 WL 2688443 (S.D. Ill. 2007) Obtained summary judgment in declaratory action interpreting "claims made" insurance policy.
  • Schur v. Troy FHC (Jury Trial, 2006, Madison County, Verdict affirmed by 5th District Court of Appeals, 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 (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. B 325 Ill. App. 3d 599 (4th Dist. 2001) Interpreted statute of limitation issue in a medical malpractice case.
  • Kennedy v. Crusader Clinic (Jury trial, 2000, Winnebago County) 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. B 293 Ill. App. 3d 886 (4th Dist 1997) Interpreted scope of peer review documents under the Illinois Medical Studies Act.
  • Zinser v. Rose 245 Ill. App. 3d 881 (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 (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.
  • Batten v. Retz 182 Ill. App. 3d 425 (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 (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 (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.
  • Cramsey v. K 191 Ill.App.3d 756 (1989)
  • Bishop v. S.B., M.D. (1989), LaSalle County. 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 (1989) Extent of allowable questioning of a defendant physician.
  • Dunavan v. C 167 Ill.App.3d 952 (1988)
  • Tobias v. W 156 Ill.App.3d 886 (1987)
  • Walter v. Hill 156 Ill. App. 3d 708 (3d Dist. 1987) Failure to file affidavit of merit with medical malpractice complaint when filed did not preclude filing affidavit after statute of limitations had run.
  • Witherell v. Weimer 85 Ill. 2d 146 (1981) Estoppel to assert statute of limitations based upon ongoing treatment with defendant physicians; also allowed testimony of pharmacist on a physician duty of care in prescribing medications.
  • Bauer v. S. Successfully defended emergency room physician following death of patient from aortic dissection.
  • Thompson v. D. Successfully defended pediatrician following the death of a small child due to undiagnosed appendicitis.
  • Woodard v. E.T., M.D. Successfully defended an obstetrician in cerebral palsy/catastrophic injury case in which damages were assessed against co-defendant in excess of $35 million.
  • Nichols v. Hospital Medical malpractice action which arose from complications following surgical repair of a giant hernia. Plaintiff sustained catastrophic injuries, including blindness, removal of a hip due to persistent infection, and an ileostomy. During the course of the litigation, the parties disclosed a total of 24 expert witnesses across multiple disciplines. The case was settled favorably following a second mediation.
  • Montejo v. OSF Circuit Court of Peoria County, Illinois - 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.
  • Faso v. S.G., M.D. 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.
  • Sayles v. K.K., M.D. 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.
  • Gulley v. F, M.D. Defense verdict in malpractice case involving intra-cranial abscess.
  • Stephenson v. O, M.D. Defense verdict in federal civil rights case involving back surgery.
  • Magurany v. S Defense verdict in rear end collision resulting in partial paralysis and brain damage.
  • Arvanitis v. R.M., M.D. 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.
  • Mondragon v. K.A., M.D. 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.
  • Jordan v. Maloney Defense verdict in professional liability and fraud case against home inspector and realtor.
  • 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.
  • Marsh v. KCC – Circuit Court of Knox County, Illinois - Medical malpractice action alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat diabetes. Obtained summary judgement for defendant medical clinic and defendant hospital.
  • Likes v. GCH – Circuit Court of Knox County, Illinois - Medical malpractice action alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat cauda equina syndrome. Obtained summary judgement 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.
  • Rupe v. Dr. X Jury Trial, Peoria County. Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Action. The decedent was an otherwise healthy 66-year-old male who had entered the hospital for an elective left knee arthroplasty. On the first post-operative day, the patient's blood profile returned a serum sodium level that was slightly low. Less than 24 hours later, the patient developed a significant confusion and the defendant doctor gave a verbal telephone order to stop the narcotic medication, but he did not order any electrolyte testing. Thereafter the patient suffered a seizure, vomited, and went into cardiac arrest. A Code Blue was called, during which the serum sodium level was found to be 120, a significant hyponatremia. Plaintiff alleged that the patient died as a result of a hyponatremic seizure and defendant doctor was negligent for not having conducted appropriate follow-up testing. The decedent left a widow and two adult children, in their early to mid-40's at the time of his death. Plaintiff asked the jury for $950,000.00 for loss of society and relations for the widow and $250,000.00 each for loss of society for the two children. Result: Not guilty.
  • Marcin v. Kipfer 117 Ill. App. 3d 1065 Appellate Court reversed defense verdict holding former patient could not sit as juror.
  • Hobson v. L. Obtained not guilty verdict for chiropractor whose manipulation allegedly caused herniated disc.
  • Wortz v. O. Obtained not guilty verdict in favor of orthopedic surgeon and nurse following bad result from surgery.
  • Lee v. E.R., M.D. Wrongful death defense verdict in retained sponge in heart of 38 year-old policeman. 
  • Schalk v. Dr. M Jury Trial, Peoria County. Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Action. 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.
  • Binegar v. F.G., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of 38 year-old during cardiac rehab. 
  • Mathews v. Dr. G, et al. Jury Trial, Fulton County. 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.
  • Rush v. Hamdy 255 Ill. App. 3d 352 Defense verdict for gastroenterologist who perforated a patient's esophagus when treating a Schatzki's Ring with an achalasia balloon.
  • Wittekiend v. Dr. W Jury Trial, Peoria County. 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.
  • Land v. M Trial of podiatry malpractice class action.
  • Madsen v. H.L., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death from post colonoscopy bowel perforation.
  • Garza v. A. Not guilty verdict defending wrongful death medical malpractice against a trauma surgeon for failure to diagnose bleeding pancreas in 20-year-old male.
  • Nye v. R.S. Not guilty verdict defending a lawyer who failed to timely file a medical malpractice claim.
  • Stinger v. R.W., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of policeman from Lidocaine overdose.
  • Montejo v. OSF 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.
  • Welch v. R.G., M.D. Defense verdict in severe brachial plexus injury from streptokinase catheter. 
  • Pemble v. R.G., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of father of 4 from bowel infarction and ischemic mesenteric artery post lap cholecystectomy. 
  • Watters v. P.S., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of 53 year-old Illinois high school counselor of the year and father of three from post CABG pulmonary embolism.
  • Kendrick v. G.S., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death post lung lobe resection.
  • Heinemeier v. J.S., M.D. Defense verdict in wrongful death of 53 year-old mother post gastric bypass surgery.
  • Involvement in discovery and mediation of three cases involving birth trauma to children, involving discovery on numerous medical disciplines including placental pathology, pediatric neuroradiology, pediatric pulmonology, rehabilitation medicine, obstetrics, and neonatology.
  • White v. G.L., M.D. Defense verdict in failed hip pinning resulting in total hip replacement and permanent pain and limp.

Publications

  • "Claim Evaluation" chapter in Medical Malpractice, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2011, 2013, 2018)
  • "Expert Discovery," chapter in Medical Malpractice, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2018)
  • "Trial," chapter in Medical Malpractice, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2018)
  • "Nursing Home Litigation," chapter in Medical Malpractice, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2018)
  • “Hospitals Beware: Apparent Agency Claims May Arise From Treatment Rendered at Offsite, Independent Clinics,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2017) - Download Article
  • "An Overview of the Affordable Care Act’s Potential to Mitigate Future Damage Claims," Heyl Royster, Medicolegal Monitor, Fourth Quarter (2015) - Read Article
  • "Update: Medical Malpractice Caps," American College of Legal Medicine Q&A (2012)