Charles H. Cole
Tough, competitive and just, Charles Cole refuses to compromise ethics and integrity when pursuing his clients' best interests and when making a claim or mounting a defense against charges of negligence, liability or malpractice. Clients both respect and expect such conduct and know by his reputation that wit and intelligence frequently gain him a competitive advantage in and out of court. Precise and responsive, Charles remains accessible to his clients, partnering with them to achieve desired results without wasting time, effort or cost.
As a young man seeking a career in the early 1970s, he felt drawn to the practice of law, believing it would afford him the opportunity to serve in a profession at once noble and moral, stimulating and exciting. He began his law career at one of the largest insurance defense firms in the state, mentored by aggressive litigators and outstanding trial attorneys who taught the finer points of successfully trying a civil suit. This early training fueled his desire to pursue a trial practice aimed at minimizing fraudulent and highly inflated personal injury claims.
After 13 years of practicing law, Charles started his own firm, which grew to 20 attorneys over five years and won respect in the insurance defense field for aggressively handling substantial matters related to professional and product liability. When his partners decided to pursue other opportunities, Charles joined another firm, bringing with him a greatly expanded clientele in the areas of professional liability, amusement claims, product liability and construction matters. The opportunity to join Schuyler, Roche & Crisham occurred in 1997 when leadership began recruiting him, eager to expand the firm's capabilities in the areas of his expertise. Attracted to Schuyler, Roche & Crisham by its mission to combine the strength and resources of a large firm with the collegiality of a small shop and for striving to respond promptly to the needs of each client, Charles joined us in February 1998.
As an undergraduate, he studied engineering and math, working toward a degree in chemical engineering—training he says that has proven beneficial when advising clients on scientific, medical and technical matters. Ultimately Charles pursued a B.S. in psychology, which, he believes, has helped him more effectively select juries, gain insight into the background and personalities of his legal adversaries and better analyze the traits and idiosyncrasies of the people he encounters in the course of his work.
Unusual for anyone, Charles also trained in drama and improvisational comedy at Chicago's famed Second City. He maintained his own improvisational comedy troupe for about a year and appeared in a number of musical comedies, a background he believes enhances his performance before judges and juries. The theatrical use of space in a courtroom, he says, can empower an attorney to achieve the stated result. His rate of success on behalf of clients persuades him his unusual training and experiences directly influence client satisfaction and the outcome of each courtroom battle.
Committed to his profession and to maintaining the rights of professional clients unjustly accused, Charles has lectured extensively, most notably as an adjunct professor teaching product liability and trial practice at the Chicago Kent School of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He has authored a regular column in the IDC Quarterly , a publication of the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (IDC), the state's largest organization of defense attorneys handling tort and commercial matters for corporations, businesses and insurance companies. Since 1992, Charles has held numerous leadership positions in this organization, including president.
On November 1, 2006, Charles was profiled in the "Leader Spotlight" section of The Voice, a regular publication of the DRI. Charles recently completed his term as the Secretary-Treasurer of DRI, a national organization with 22,000 members. He also completed his term on the DRI Board of Directors in October, 2010.
AREAS OF PRACTICE
Fifty-five of the 60 cases Charles has tried before a jury have won favorable or projected outcomes. Equally admirable, he has resolved countless malpractice cases at the motion or pretrial settlement stage, cases that initially seemed destined for adverse outcomes. His representation has addressed a broad range of accusations or issues: medical, psychological and hospital negligence; product liability; architectural malpractice; legal malpractice; construction disputes; insurance coverage; transportation negligence involving aviation, railroad or trucking claims; and many general liability and commercial matters.
Charles has defended more than 300 physicians against claims of malpractice. Currently, in his broad practice, he represents a number of physicians' groups as well as physicians in medical negligence cases. His legal expertise in medical matters includes handling claims involving anesthesiology, cardiology, emergency medicine, family practice, gastroenterology, general surgery, internal medicine, neurology and neurological surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, oncology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiology and urology.
In addition to representing individual physicians and medical groups, hospitals and related healthcare providers, Charles provides expert representation to a wide range of individuals and organizations, including:
- product manufacturers
- architectural and engineering firms
- engineering firms involved in civil, structural, mechanical or chemical engineering
- general contractors and subcontractors, among other construction-related clients
- amusement vendors operating carnivals or theme parks or manufacturing or discharging fireworks
- general business and commercial clients regarding insurance coverage or involving disputes arising from coverage and contract matters, among other general litigation issues.
Charles successfully prosecuted a civil claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against an insurance agent that resulted in a judgment of $36 million in favor of a commercial client. His many courtroom victories involving the successful defense of professionals and entities include representing:
- an emergency-room physician who allegedly failed to diagnose an atypical aortic dissection resulting in the death of a 43-year-old man
- an emergency-room physician in a complicated case involving allegations of medical malpractice, police brutality and racial profiling resulting in the death of a 24-year-old man due to urosepsis, secondary to a rupture of a cecal conduit
- a cardiologist accused of negligence in causing massive cardiac muscle damage to a 38-year-old man following an improperly treated acute myocardial infarction
- a pediatrician accused of causing the death of a two-year-old due to a delay in diagnosis of intussusception
- the general contractor involved in the collapse of the Rosemont Horizon Stadium, which resulted in the death of five persons
- the City of Alton, which sponsored a fireworks display resulting in three deaths and for which Charles successfully obtained a summary judgment on behalf of its insurance company establishing no insurance coverage for the nonetheless grievous loss
- the civil engineer involved with the reconstruction of the Dan Ryan and Edens expressways, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.
Whether seeking redress for serious bodily injury or a loved one's wrongful death, whether a plaintiff or defendant, you need an advocate who is candid and honest. If you believe Charles Cole—who prides himself on aggressive representation, attentive client management and favorable case resolution—can benefit you or your organization, please give him a call.
Speaker and paper submitted, DRI Trial Tactics Seminar, Las Vegas, NV, 2008
Speaker and paper submitted, Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana, Annual Meeting, Bloomington, IN, 2009
Speaker and paper submitted, Texas Association of Defense Counsel, Spring Meeting, Austin, TX, 2009
Speaker and paper submitted, Canadian Defence Lawyers, Trial Tactics Seminar, Toronto, ON, 2008
Speaker and paper submitted, Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association, Trial Techniques Seminar, Duluth, MN, 2008
Speaker and paper submitted, Wisconsin Defense Lawyers, Spring Conference, Kohler, WI, 2007
Speaker and paper submitted, South Dakota Defense Lawyers Association, State Bar Meeting, Aberdeen, SD, 2007
"The Standard of Care and Ethical Responsibility," panel discussion at the seminar Engineering Through the Legal Issues, Structural Engineers Foundation, 2004.
"Expert Witnesses: Retain, Manage and Use," Chicago Bar Association, 2004.