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Heyl Royster



Stephen Ayres (Of Counsel)


Steve has more than 28 years of experience in a wide array of civil litigation matters, ranging from premises liability and vehicular accidents to complex construction defect and bodily injury cases, products liability cases, environmental and toxic tort claims, as well as related insurance coverage disputes. Steve has handled thousands of matters and tried many to verdict.

Steve was formerly a partner at Baker & McKenzie, and later a named partner at Cheely, O'Flaherty & Ayres prior to joining Heyl Royster in the firm's Chicago office.

Steve has been a frequent speaker at Illinois CLE programs on construction litigation, mold litigation, and insurance coverage issues. He was named to the 2012 Illinois Super Lawyers list.

Significant Cases

  • Swann & Weiskopf v. Meed Associates Persuaded Illinois Appellate Court, First District, to affirm trial court's summary judgment dismissing claim against engineering firm which had designed storm water retention system, as being untimely under Illinois Construction Statute of Limitations.
  • County of DuPage v. Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum 1996 WL 33413358 (Ill. App. 1996) Represented general contractor in the highly publicized "sick building" case involving the new DuPage County Courthouse, with a defense verdict following a month long jury trial, which was upheld on appeal.
  • Capitol Indemnity v. Elston Self Service Wholesale Groceries (7th Cir. 2009) Persuaded 7th Circuit to affirm summary judgment for insured-client holding that alleged sale of counterfeit cigarettes falls within advertising injury coverage and not excluded by "prior acts" exclusion in policy.
  • Great American Insurance Co. v. Helwig 419 F. Supp. 2d 1017 (N.D. Ill. 2005) Obtained summary judgment for insured for underground pollution of well water despite absolute pollution exclusion by arguing that that exclusion was not part of the personal injury or advertising coverage of the insured's policy.
  • Sycamore Industrial Park Ass’n v. Ericsson No. 08-1118 (7th Cir. 2008) Persuaded 7th Circuit to uphold summary judgment for seller of industrial park alleged to be liable under CERCLA and RCRA for asbestos in the buildings.
  • Farfan v. Commonwealth Edison No. 1-10-0502 (Ill. App. 2011) Obtained summary judgment for utility in electrocution death case which was upheld on appeal in the Illinois Appellate Court, First District.


  • "Attempted Use of Experts to Expand Legal Duties in Personal Injury Cases," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Leading Lawyers Law Day Edition (2014)
  • "Litigating Environmental and Toxic Tort Coverage Claims" chapter, Business Liability Insurance: Litigation, Arbitration and Settlement, Butterworth Legal Publishers (1993)

Public Speaking

  • “Emerging Issues in Allocation of Fault and Contribution”
    Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2016
  • “Litigation Insurance Coverage Claims: From Start to Finish”
    National Business Institute 2010
  • “Common Types of Insurance Coverage Disputes”
    National Business Institute Teleconference 2009
  • “Insurance Law Updates in Illinois”
    National Business Institute 2008
  • “Insurance Coverage Litigation”
    National Business Institute 2006
  • “Current Issues Impacting Insurance Defense Practice in Illinois”
    National Business Institute 2005
  • “Solving Water Intrusion and Mold Problems in Illinois”
    Lorman Education Services 2003
  • “Advances in Environmental Mold Issues”
    Lorman Education Services 2003
  • “Sick Building Syndrome and the DuPage County Courthouse”
    Chicago Bar Association 1994

Professional Recognition

  • Selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois in the area of Construction Law; Insurance, Insurance Coverage & Reinsurance Law; and Toxic Torts Defense Law. Only five percent of lawyers in the state are named as Leading Lawyers.
  • Named to the Illinois Super Lawyers list (2012). The Super Lawyers selection process is based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Only five percent of the lawyers in each state earn this designation.

Professional Associations

  • Builders Association of Chicago/Association of General Contractors
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Defense Research Institute

Court Admissions

  • State Courts of Illinois
  • United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court