Craig & Craig, LLC

practices law throughout Central and Southern Illinois with offices located in Mattoon and Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

About Craig & Craig, LLC

The Firm’s philosophy is to provide the highest standard of professional service consistent with the greatest economy for the client. The Firm has developed and maintained a strong regional presence encompassing many practice areas within the scope of both personal and commercial transactions and litigation. Clients are provided counsel and advice on a wide range of legal concerns, ranging from acquisitions of assets, and related due diligence considerations, to insurance coverage for risk management of the construction and operation of improvements, to title to minerals for extraction, as well as risk management of employment practices.

The negotiation of the detailed terms of a sale and purchase transaction, and the drafting of the papers needed to document the agreement, are an integral part of the firm’s services for transactional clients, with timeliness combined with a thorough identification and evaluation of the risks and benefits being the hallmark of the Firm. The Firm’s litigation practice extends to administrative bodies as well as state and federal courts on these topics, in addition to the Firm’s long-standing practice in the defense of personal injury claims.

The members of the Firm have consistently been honored by their peers, from fellowship in the American College of Trial Lawyers to active participation in the Illinois State Bar Assn., and most notably an active role as officers and board members of the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel. Several members continue to publish regularly with the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and produce other professional writings including the definitive resource on the Illinois Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Disease Act. Many members have presented at CLE seminars and regional meetings of Human Resources professional organizations.

Recent Firm News

John L. Barger made a presentation at the Life Span Center for the Coles County Council on Aging on February 24, 2023. The subject of the presentation was basic estate planning. The presentation lasted over two hours with a question and answer session being included.  Topics included ownership of assets; the Statute of Descent and Distribution; pre-paid burial plans; Medicaid planning; long-term care insurance; property powers of attorney; health care powers of attorney; DNR orders; beneficiary designations on investments; and the importance of having a will or estate plan in place.

John L. Barger was recently involved in the closing of the sale of 104 acres of Coles County farmland.  The farmland sold at an auction on December 15, 2022.

R. Sean Hocking wins two week wrongful death medical malpractice trial

R. Sean Hocking in the Mattoon office of Craig & Craig, LLC recently secured a zero verdict for an emergency room physician resulting from a two week wrongful death, medical malpractice jury trial in Sangamon County, Illinois.

The Plaintiff made a multi-million dollar settlement demand before trial. The case was defended on the issues of both liability and causation in regard to an approximately fifty year old male who died in the emergency room of a pulmonary embolism. The trial spanned over two weeks in length and involved the examination of five medical expert witnesses in the areas of emergency medicine, urgent care, and pulmonology.

John F. Watson Elected Secretary/Treasurer of Statewide Defense Attorney Association.  John F. Watson of Craig & Craig, LLC in Mattoon was elected Secretary/Treasurer and to a position on the Executive Committee of the Illinois Defense Counsel (IDC) at the organization’s Annual Meeting, held June 24, 2022. Mr. Watson will progress through the positions in the Executive Committee to become President in June 2027.

John L. Barger and Steven R. Wolke recently made a presentation regarding basic estate planning to seniors at the Cumberland County Life Center.  They discussed ownership of bank accounts and investments, powers of attorney and general estate planning considerations.  They were joined by Susan Sowers at First Neighbor Bank for the presentation. 

John L. Barger recently closed the sale of approximately 600 acres of Coles County farmland sold at auction.

On September 13, 2018, at the invitation of Chairperson Joann Fratianni, Ken Werts provided judicial training for the Commission at its annual retreat for that purpose in Oak Park, Illinois. At the Call of the Docket of the Appellate Court Workers’ Compensation Division September 18 through September 20, 2018 Ken Werts and Julie Webb presented argument on seven occupational disease claims. The Appellate Court in each case either affirmed the denial of the claim or reversed to a denial. The cases were: Mark Johns v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, (Freeman United Coal Mining Co.) 2018 IL App (4th) 170619WC-U, Warren Spann v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, ( Tri County Coal, LLC) 2018 IL App (5th) 170359WC-U, Michael Wood v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, (Centre Crown Mining, LLC) 2018 IL App (5th) 170361WC-U, Robert Walch v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, (Freeman United Coal Mining Co.) 2018 IL App (4th) 170945WC-U, The American Coal Company v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, (Jimmie Boatright) 2018 IL App (5th) 170451WC-U, Edgar Bledsoe v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, (The American Coal Co.) 2018 IL App (5th) 180012WC-U and Lester Stevens v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, (Freeman United Coal Mining Co.) 2018 IL App (4th) 180089WC-U. On October 8, 2018 Ken also presented the Case Law Update on Workers’ Compensation for the Illinois State Bar Association at CLE it presented for downstate attorneys. The latest edition of Ken’s book, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Guidebook 2018 is now available for purchase from LexisNexis.

Paul Lynch of the Mt. Vernon office has been appointed Chair of the Illinois-Downstate State Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers for 2018-2019.

Lynch was inducted as a Fellow of the American College in October, 2009. Fellowship in the College is extended by invitation only, and only after careful investigation, to those experienced trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy, and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality. Membership in the College cannot exceed one percent of the total lawyer population of any state or province.

State Committees of the American College perform work that includes the nomination of candidates for Fellowship, and the organization of local outreach activities.

Greg Ray spoke at the annual seminar of the Township Highway Commissioners of Illinois meeting in Peoria on August 7, 2018, discussing the “discretionary immunity” issues taken up by the Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion in Monson v. City of Danville, which was released on August 2, 2018, and other issues arising under the Tort Immunity Act as well as the Illinois Drainage Code.

Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation, Mattoon, Illinois, inducted the Firm onto the Donor Recognition Wall at the 29th Annual Inner Circle Recognition Dinner on April 21, 2018. Greg Ray and Bob Grierson were in attendance for the Firm to receive the award. Kim Uphoff, Vice President of the Foundation, noted in her remarks that the Firm was celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The hospital’s CEO, Jerry Esker, noted Greg Ray’s role in connection with a recent medical practice acquisition by the hospital.

Paul Lynch Wins Two Jury Trials in Cases of Alleged Medical Malpractice

Within a three-month period, Paul Lynch of the Mt. Vernon office of Craig & Craig, LLC, obtained two verdicts of “no liability” in civil cases brought against physicians.

On January 19, 2018, at the conclusion of a four-day trial, a jury in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County returned a verdict in favor of the Defendants in Case No. 12-L-40.  Lynch represented an emergency medicine physician who evaluated the Plaintiff when he came to a hospital emergency department with complaints of chest pain.  Plaintiff was released with instructions to return “if more intense chest pain,” and to see his primary care physician within a few days.

Plaintiff returned to the emergency department the following day with more chest pain.  He sustained a myocardial infarction or heart attack, that required stents in two coronary arteries. Plaintiff’s experts conceded that he would have required the same followup care that he has continued to receive because of his coronary artery disease, regardless of the myocardial infarction.  Plaintiff has scar tissue in the heart, and a “mildly reduced” ejection fraction of 45%. A cardiologist testifying for Plaintiff asserted that Plaintiff has a reduced life expectancy.

Plaintiff contended that the emergency physician was negligent in failing to recognize “coronary syndrome,” and in releasing Plaintiff without additional work up.  The defense contended that Plaintiff was contributorily negligent in failing to return to the emergency department that evening, after he experienced several intense chest pains.

Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for a verdict in a range of $440,000 to $540,000.

Lynch represented another emergency medicine physician in a five-day jury trial conducted Case No. 3:17‑cv‑00818‑SCW, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in East St. Louis. While on duty in a hospital emergency department, Lynch’s client answered a “Code” in an intensive care  unit.  Plaintiff’s heart had stopped due to respiratory arrest, and her heart remained stopped for a period of approximately 15 minutes, despite CPR and intubation.  Plaintiff sustained significant, disabling brain damage as a result of this hypoxic event.

Plaintiff claimed that the emergency medicine physician failed to follow the applicable Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) Guidelines of the American Heart Association, and failed to ensure that Epinephrine was administered in a timely manner.

In closing argument, Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for a verdict of $7,500,000.  On April 20, 2018, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Defendants.

Ken Werts has been appointed by Illinois State Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady to serve on the State Workers’ Compensation Program Advisory Board. The Board is charged with review and assessment of the State workers’ compensation program and is asked to make recommendations to improve same and to ensure that the State manages the program in the interest of injured workers’ and taxpayers. On an annual basis the Board issues a report detailing recommended best practices to the Governor, the Director of the Department Central Management Services and the General Assembly, for the the State workers’ compensation program.

On October 25th, 2017, Greg Ray conducted a Webinar for the Township Officials of Illinois, presenting to an audience of township highway commissioners and county engineers. Updated comments were offered regarding tort immunity, drainage disputes and issues with the use of township road right-of-way by utilities and telecommunication carriers.

Ken Werts provided judicial training for the Arbitrators, Commissioners and staff of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and was a guest speaker for the Society for Human Resource Management.

On September 15, 2017, at the invitation of Chairperson Joann Fratianni, Ken Werts provided judicial training for the Commission at its annual retreat for that purpose in Oak Park, Illinois. On September 19, 2017, Ken also was guest speaker on the topic of workers’ compensation for the Southern Illinois affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management. The latest edition of Ken’s book, Illinois Workers Compensation Guidebook 2017 will be available for purchase from LexisNexis this fall.

Paul Lynch of the Mt. Vernon Office of Craig & Craig, LLC, recently represented the Defendant in a jury trial held in the Circuit Court of Saline County, in the vehicle collision case of Patton v. Stolte. Liability was admitted on behalf of the Defendant. The jury was also informed that the Defendant was not contesting that the collision had caused a shoulder injury to the Plaintiff, and rotator cuff surgery. Plaintiff also claimed that she injured her low back in the collision, resulting in lumbar disc surgery approximately fifteen months later, which was disputed by the Defendant. In closing argument, Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to return a verdict of $395,000. The jury returned a verdict awarding $80,000 to Plaintiff.

On September 15, 2017, at the invitation of Chairperson Joann Fratianni, Ken Werts provided judicial training for the Commission at its annual retreat for that purpose in Oak Park, Illinois. On September 19, 2017, Ken also was guest speaker on the topic of workers’ compensation for the Southern Illinois affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management. The latest edition of Ken’s book, Illinois Workers Compensation Guidebook 2017 will be available for purchase from LexisNexis this fall.

John L. Barger represented sellers in the sale of 644 acres of farm land located in Coles and Shelby Counties that sold at auctions between March 10,2017 and March 21,2017 .  The total sale price of that land was approximately $6,391,000.00.

John L. Barger was recently involved in the sale and multiple 1031 exchanges of Douglas county farm land of approximately 330 acres.

On August 8, 2017, Greg Ray presented at the Illinois Township Highway Commissioners summer meeting at the Peoria Civic Center. The presentation addressed a number of topics of interest to Highway Commissioners, including the use of highway right of way by public utilities; problems maintaining or establishing proper drainage of road ditches; Tort Immunity Act considerations including discretionary immunity, road maintenance obligations and requirements for traffic control and warning signs. The discussion also took up issues of procedures to be followed by Highway Commissioners in addressing complaints of alleged failures of road maintenance; requests for vacation of roads, and the rights of Highway Commissioners to remove obstructions or correct dirt work performed by adjoining landowners that adversely affect the right of way including drainage from the right of way. Many of the nearly 200 attendees were newly elected as Highway Commissioners in the spring of 2017. The Township Officials of Illinois is a statewide organization of Townships which includes a section for Highway Commissioners. Mr. Ray regularly represents Townships and Highway Commissioners throughout Central and Southern Illinois in connection with liability claims as well as chancery actions brought against Highway Commissioners for a variety of circumstances through coverages afforded by the Township of Illinois Risk Management Association (TOIRMA).

Mr. Kenneth Werts will be inducted into the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the College’s Induction Dinner to be held March 18, 2017, at the conclusion of the ABA’s Workers’ Compensation Committee Midwinter Seminar and Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.  The College was established to honor those attorneys who have distinguished themselves in the practice in the field of workers’ compensation.  Individuals are nominated for fellowship for their outstanding traits they have developed in their practice of 20 years or more.  Fellows have convinced their peers, bar, bench and public that they possess the highest professional qualifications and ethical standards, character, integrity, professional expertise and leadership.  They have also demonstrated significant evidence of scholarship, teaching, lecturing, and/or distinguished published writings on Workers’ Compensation or related fields of law.  Mr. Werts becomes only the ninth defense attorney in the State of Illinois to be inducted into the College.

Ms. Julie Webb will be making a presentation entitled Appeals: a Timeline from Arbitration to the Supreme Court and Consequences on Monday, October 10, 2016, at the ISBA CLE entitled What You Need to Know to Practice Before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Julie’s presentation will provide a comprehensive overview of the appellate process in workers’ compensation claims from arbitration through the Supreme Court of Illinois. This seminar will be held at the Four Points Sheraton in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

Ms. Julie Webb has recently been added to the list of approved family mediators in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Family mediators who are either appointed by the Court or agreed upon by the parties conduct mediations with parties in disputed family cases to come up with a Parenting Plan which addresses parental responsibilities and parenting time. Julie has served as a mediator in the Second Judicial Circuit for a number of years.

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