CHRISTOPHER T. HURLEY
Christopher T. Hurley has been a trial lawyer since 1984 and has obtained numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for his clients throughout Illinois and the country. He founded Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. in 1992 on the principles of respect for clients, sensitivity to their needs, and aggressive protection of their interests.
His early training at Baker & McKenzie, the largest law firm in the world, allowed him to work with many of most notable and respected trial lawyers in the country representing major hospitals, corporations, and insurance companies. Incidentally this early experience took his interest to the other side of the courtroom, and Mr. Hurley decided to use his skills to help those who have been wrongfully injured.
The national and international trial bar has given Mr. Hurley its highest honors, inviting him to membership in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, International College of Trial Lawyers, American Board of Trial Advocates, and Society of Trial Lawyers. These are all exclusive distinctions based on peer nominations not only for his experience as a trial lawyer, but for the character and integrity he brings to the profession. The standards for admission are high and the nominating process is very extensive and thorough. Outstanding skills and extensive experience as a trial lawyer, unimpeachable personal and professional character, integrity, professionalism and honesty are required of every nominee, and membership in each organization is limited to a very small percentage of practicing trial lawyers. Based on peer recommendations and statewide surveys, he has also been named a Super Lawyer and a Leading Lawyer in Illinois.
Mr. Hurley has repeatedly been elected to leadership positions in the legal field. He is currently Second Vice President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, having served on the Board of Managers since 1996. In 2011 he was elected to the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association.
Mr. Hurley has helped expand legal education. He is the past President of the Alumni Board of Governors of Loyola University of Chicago Law School, his alma mater, where he also served on the Elder Initiative Advisory Board and sponsored the Christopher T. Hurley Lecture, part of a series held by the school on legal issues affecting the elderly. He has been an adjunct professor of law at Northwestern University teaching trial practice, and he also speaks frequently to bar groups on topics related to personal injury law and trial practice.
Meet Christopher T. Hurley
A strong supporter of education in general, Mr. Hurley is a Trustee Emeritus and member of the Alumni Board of Advisors for La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Indiana. He has established scholarship funds at Loyola University School of Law and at Colgate University and have sponsored the Annual Tim Byrnes Lecture in Political Science.
Mr. Hurley has been an active volunteer with Project Common Hope, an organization that provides assistance and support to the disadvantaged of Guatemala through education, housing, and health care.
Chris Hurley: Drawing Us Together
Highlights of my Career
A Client's Thank You Card
Early in my career we accepted a medical malpractice case for an elderly woman who was having trouble finding a lawyer. They said her case was too complicated, too risky and she was too old. All of these things were arguably true, but we took the case because the care she had received was sub-standard. We worked hard and settled her case. A few months later I received a card in the mail with a photo of a modest brick house and a note that said this: “Thank you so very much for helping me. This is a picture of my house, my home for the rest of my life.” She used her settlement to retire and buy a home near her family. We settled many larger cases before that and since, but I have always treasured this photo and I look at it often to remind me why I do this work.
Trusting Juries to Do the Right Thing
In the early 90’s shortly after I founded our law firm I took a case for the family of an older woman who died when she fell down some dangerous unlit concrete stairs. The insurance company offered only $100,000 to compensate the family of this woman who was the sole caregiver for her adult mentally disabled son. Despite many warnings that I should settle this difficult case, which was filed in a very conservative county, we went to trial because the settlement offer was simply not fair. The jury awarded $2 million, a record amount in that county, and more than I asked for in closing argument. This was an early lesson in trusting juries to do the right thing.
Changing the Law
By our work in Amy Clark’s case, we not only provided a fund of money that allowed Amy to support her two profoundly disabled sons but we also brought Amy’s case to the Illinois Supreme Court where we were able to persuade the court that Illinois law needed to change. The court’s decision changed the old law in our state to allow parents to recover for emotional distress when medical negligence led to the wrongful birth of a profoundly disabled child.
Winning a Case Rejected by Other Lawyers
The Hill Case was another case we were not supposed to win. The Hills had been rejected by other lawyers before they came to us for help. Their son suffered brain damage due to an unnecessary delay in his delivery. We were able to prove that the defendants had lost or destroyed key medical records. The settlement offer before trial was $0. The jury verdict was $14 million.
Honors From Trial Lawyers
My selections for fellowship to the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, both invitation only organizations limited to the top 1% of trial lawyers, have been particularly rewarding honors. These groups are made up of real trial lawyers – the people that understand what it takes to master the law and the evidence and make a coherent argument to a jury on a few hours of sleep. It is nice to be recognized by my peers and competitors.
Protecting the Right to a Jury Trial
I have been elected to the leadership of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. This organization stands watch in our state to protect the right to trial by jury. The right to a jury trial is found in the Illinois and U.S. Constitutions. Since I was sworn in as a lawyer in 1984 and well before, the forces of big insurance, big tobacco and big business have fought to do away with jury trials. Unchecked by juries, theses powerful special interests will have their way with the citizens of our state. ITLA has battled these forces toe to toe for decades and I am proud to be on the side of regular working people in this fight.
An Inspirational Client Helps Make Biking Safer
Working for Mark Stephan has been one of the most inspirational and professionally rewarding experiences of my career. Mark broke his neck when a quick release system on his bicycle caused the front wheel to fall off while he was riding. As a result of our work, every bike manufacturer in the country now incorporates a safety system in its design to avoid unexpected wheel separations. More importantly, we helped Mark obtain the financial resources he needed to bring a message of incredible hope to victims of spinal cord injury across the country. In his refusal to ever quit he has inspired us and the world by climbing the stairs to the top of Chicago’s tallest building and riding his recumbent bike across the United States.