Michael Denning

Practice Groups:

Medical Malpractice Defense

Long Term Care/Nursing Homes


Office Locations:

Rockford, IL



Email Me


  • Juris Doctor (cum laude), Northern Illinois University College of Law, 2002
  • Bachelor of Science-Business Administration, Bradley University, 1999

Year Joined Firm



Heyl Royster


Michael Denning (Shareholder)

Mike concentrates his practice in the defense of medical malpractice and nursing home claims. Mike regularly defends physicians, clinics, hospitals, advanced practice nurses, and long term care facilities in professional liability and institutional negligence claims involving significant injuries or death. Mike also handles a myriad of administrative issues for long term care facilities, including involuntary discharge proceedings, licensure issues, fraud and abuse claims, and other litigation.

Mike has successfully tried many cases to verdict and has represented the firm’s clients in all aspects of complex malpractice litigation, including pre-suit investigation, jury trials, mediations, and settlement conferences. Mike is a Martindale-Hubbell AV rated lawyer who currently chairs the firm’s Long Term Care/Nursing Home Practice. Mike regularly speaks and writes on topics involving jury trials and trial strategies, and has published articles in local, state, and national publications. He was named one of the "40 Under Forty" attorneys to watch in the entire state of Illinois by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company.

Mike was the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review at Northern Illinois University and started his legal career with the firm as a law clerk in the Peoria office. After completing a judicial clerkship with Illinois Appellate Court Judge Tom M. Lytton in 2004, Mike joined the firm’s Rockford office. He is licensed to practice in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Significant Cases

  • Obtained a defense verdict for a colorectal surgeon following a jury trial in which plaintiff asserted that during colonoscopy the surgeon perforated the plaintiff’s colon and failed to find or repair the hole, which during subsequent emergency surgery was found to be 1.5 cm. The plaintiff was given an ileostomy, had lengthy hospitalizations, required additional surgeries, and incurred nearly $130,000 in medical bills. After deliberating for less than 45 minutes, the jury returned a defense verdict.
  • 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.
  • Secured defense verdict following lengthy jury trial for pediatrician in DeKalb County alleged to have failed to diagnose undescended testicles in a child from birth to age 15 months. Plaintiff's claimed damages included loss of one testicle, loss of a normal life and emotional distress and claims of infertility in adulthood.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Eckburg v. Presbytery of Blackhawk of Presbyterian Church (USA) 396 Ill.App.3d 164 (2d Dist. 2009) Represented rural landowner in the appeal of a case alleging serious injury and wrongful death to plaintiffs, a motorcycle rider and his passenger wife, resulting from a tree falling onto state highway. The court affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the case. In a second appeal, (Eckburg v. Presbytery of Blackhawk of Presbyterian Church (USA), 2011 IL App (2d) 110284-U, the Appellate Court ruled that the landowner could not be held liable for damage caused by falling branches or trees that abut private property that are physically located on state's Right of Way and exclusively under state's control.
  • Lorenz ex rel. Lorenz v. Herrera 362 Ill. App. 3d 1171 (2d Dist. 2006) Represented defendants/appellants Sheriff and Sheriff's Department in an appellate case that established that the proper venue for personal injury action against deputy sheriff is county in which sheriff's office is located, not plaintiff's county of residence.


“Eavesdropping – Easier Than Ever!,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2018) - Download Article

“Pro Se Complaints for Wrongful Death or Survival Damages: Void or Amendable?” FDCC Insights, A Journal for Defense and Corporate Counsel (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

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

"Liquor Liability: Social Hosts and Other Issues," 26th Annual Claims Handling Seminar (2011) - Download Article

"Illinois Courts Expand, Then Narrow Validity of Arbitration Agreements in Nursing Home Litigation," IDC Defense Update, Vol. 12, No. 14 (2011) - Download Article

Public Speaking

“A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words: The Use of Technology at Trial”
Heyl Royster's 33rd Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2018

“Understanding Recoverable Damages: Double Dipping by Plaintiffs”
Heyl Royster's 32nd Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2017

“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

“Can The Affordable Care Act Make Future Medical Care In Litigation More Affordable?”
Heyl Royster's 31st Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2016

“Using Technology at Trial”
Winnebago County Bar Association Trial & Appellate Section CLE 2016

“What You Need to Know About Nursing Home Care Liability”
Heyl Royster's 30th Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2015

“Using Technology in the Courtroom”
Winnebago County Bar Association Trial & Appellate Section CLE 2015

“How to Handle the Midnight Call and The Building Blocks of an Effective Defense”
Heyl Royster 29th Annual Claims Handling Seminar 2014

“Civil Procedure Update”
Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel 2013

“You’ve Been Served: How to Help Your Organization Understand and Defend a Lawsuit”
St. Mary’s Occupational Health & Streator Chamber of Commerce 2013

Professional Recognition

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
  • Selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois. Only five percent of lawyers in the state are named as Leading Lawyers.
  • Named to Law Bulletin Publishing Company's list of Illinois Emerging Lawyers (2016-2017). Only two percent of Illinois lawyers under the age of 40 or who have been licensed to practice for 10 years or less earn this distinction.
  • Named one of "40 Under Forty" attorneys to watch in Illinois by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company. This honor recognizes exceptional lawyering skills, significant contributions to the legal profession and substantial involvement in local community.
  • Named to the Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars list (2012-2017). The Super Lawyers Rising Stars selection process is based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Only 2.5 percent of Illinois lawyers under the age of 40 or who have been practicing 10 years or less earn this designation.

Professional Associations

  • Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (Chair, Professional Liability Section; Editor, Professional Liability Section Newsletter)
  • Professional Liability Defense Federation
  • Winnebago County Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Defense Research Institute
  • American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Wisconsin

Court Admissions

  • State Courts of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin
  • United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois and Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin
  • United States Supreme Court  

Community Involvement

  • Chair, Board of Directors of the Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross
  • Board Member, Belvidere Community School District 100 Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Alumni Council at Northern Illinois University College of Law
  • Prior experience in teaching several Law classes in paralegal program at Rockford Business College