Craig Unrath

Practice Groups:

Appellate Advocacy

Civil Rights Litigation/Section 1983

Professional Regulation/Licensure

Office Locations:

Peoria, IL

Chicago, IL



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  • Juris Doctor, University of Illinois, 1991
  • Bachelor of Arts-Humanities, Shimer College, 1978 

Year Joined Firm



Heyl Royster


Craig Unrath (Partner)

Craig is partner at Heyl Royster and is Chair of the firm's Appellate practice group. He is also Vice Chair of the Professional Regulation/Licensure practice group. He began his career with Heyl Royster in 1994 after serving for two years as law clerk to Justice Carl A. Lund of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District.

Craig has extensive experience in the Illinois Appellate Courts, Illinois Supreme Court, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He has argued eleven cases before the Illinois Supreme Court, eight of which were the result of successful Petitions for Leave to Appeal. Craig has argued 34 cases before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and filed dozens of briefs in appeals decided without oral argument. He has also argued cases in the United States Courts of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and Federal Circuit.

He served as President of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association from 2007 to 2008. He currently serves as Chair of the Amicus Committee for the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (IDC).

Significant Cases

  • Reeder v. Auto Owners Ins. Co. 2016 IL App (3d) 150252-U The Third District Appellate Court affirmed a trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant in a case where plaintiffs claimed they were entitled to coverage under an insurance policy issued to the prior owner of car. The appellate court found that, following the sale of the car, the prior owners had no insurable interest in the vehicle. In addition, the court found that the omnibus clause of the policy could not be interpreted as offering coverage to the purchasers of the car.
  • Cripe v. Leiter 184 Ill. 2d 185 (1998) In a case of first impression, the Illinois Supreme Court held that Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act did not apply to claim that attorney charged excessive fees.
  • Hobbs v. Hartford Ins. Co. of the Midwest, 214 Ill. 2d 11 (2005) The statement: "If a premium charge does not appear, that coverage is not provided" appearing on an insurance policy declarations sheet does not address the issue of stacking and cannot reasonably be read as contradictory to the antistacking clause in the policy. The policy must be construed as a whole.
  • Cramer v. Insurance Exchange Agency 174 Ill. 2d 513 (1996) Held: Although an insurer's conduct may give rise to both a breach of contract action and a separate and independent tort action mere allegations of bad faith or unreasonable and vexatious conduct, without more, do not constitute such a tort.
  • Armstrong v. Guigler 174 Ill. 2d 281 (1996) Held that a claim for breach of implied fiduciary duty is independent of and only incidental to the written contract and, as a result, the residual, five year statute of limitations applied.
  • Mwesigwa v. DAP, Inc. 637 F.3d 884 (8th Cir. 2011) Successfully defended appeal of order granting motion for summary judgment in products liability case. Held: The Federal Hazardous Substances Act preempts state cause of action that would impose a labeling requirement different from the requirements in the FHSA. FHSA did not require manufacturer to warn of risk of fire from accidental spill, or warn against spreading product after spill.
  • Tomic v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria 442 F.3d 1036 (7th Cir. 2006) Former music director and organist of religious diocese and church brought action against diocese alleging he was terminated in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The Court of Appeals held that director's position fell within ministerial exception to the ADEA.
  • Cookson v. Price 239 Ill. 2d 339 (2010) A medical malpractice plaintiff may be granted leave to amend a complaint to correct defects resulting from a failure to comply with statute requiring a section 2-622 affidavit of merit where the complaint does not appear to be frivolous, even where the new report is substantially different than the original report.
  • General Casualty Ins. Co. v. Lacey 199 Ill. 2d 281 (2002) The validity of an exhaustion clause was governed by the law in effect at the time of issuance of the policy, not settlement with the liability insurer.
  • Bubb v. Springfield School Dist. 186 167 Ill. 2d 372 (1995) In a case of first impression, the court interpreted language in Section 3-106 of the Tort Immunity Act, finding that statutory recreational immunity is triggered by the recreational character of the property regardless of its primary purpose.
  • Click here to view full list.


"Final Judgments" chapter in Illinois Civil Appeals: State and Federal, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2018) - Read Excerpt

"Amicus Committee Report," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2016) - Download Article 

"Amicus Committee Report," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2015) - Download Article

"Final Judgments" chapter in Civil Appeals (Illinois): State and Federal 2015, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education

"Privileges" chapter in Illinois Civil Trial Evidence, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2015)

"The Amicus Committee Report," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2014) - Download Article

"Survey of Amicus Cases," Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel's 2013 Survey of Law (2014) - Download Article

"The Amicus Committee Report," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2014) - Download Article

"Privileges" chapter in Illinois Civil Trial Evidence, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2009)

"Amicus Curiae Briefs" DRI Manual of Appellate Practice (2004 ed.)

Public Speaking

“Not So Instant Replay: Illinois Appellate/Supreme Court Update”
Heyl Royster's 32nd Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2017

“What's On the Horizon”
Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2016

“I Want to Appeal Now! A Primer on Interlocutory Appeals”
Heyl Royster's 30th Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2015

“Proactive Defense Strategies: Why an Appellate Specialist?”
Heyl Royster 29th Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2014

“What’s on the Horizon? Cases Pending in the Illinois Supreme Court”
Heyl Royster 28th Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2013

“What's on the Horizon? Cases Pending in the Illinois Supreme Court”
Heyl Royster 27th Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2012

“Practice Before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals”
Peoria County Bar / Appellate Lawyers Association Seminar on Appellate Practice, Peoria 2011

“What’s On The Horizon? Cases Pending In the Illinois Supreme Court”
Heyl Royster 26th Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2011

“Petitions for Rehearing and Petitions for Leave to Appeal”
Appellate Lawyers Association 2010

“Examination of Post-Judgment Issues”
Claims & Defense Tactics Symposium 2010

Click here to view full list”

Professional Recognition

  • Named to the Illinois Super Lawyers list (2008-2020). 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.
  • Selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois. Only five percent of lawyers in the state are named as Leading Lawyers
  • Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article on successful appeal in Cripe v. Leiter before the Illinois Supreme Court
  • Recognized as a Top Lawyer in Illinois as published in Crain's Chicago Business (2010-2011)

Professional Associations

  • Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association (President 2007-2008)
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (Chairman, Amicus Committee)
  • Seventh Circuit Bar Association
  • Eighth Circuit Bar Association
  • Peoria County Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association 

Court Admissions

  • State Courts of Illinois
  • United States District Court, Central, Southern and Northern Districts of Illinois
  • United States Court of Appeals, Third, Seventh and Eighth Circuits
  • United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court