Charles J. Swartwout

Charles J. Swartwout

Belleville, Illinois

Charlie Swartwout is a skilled and experienced trial lawyer and founding member of the firm.  He concentrates his practice in the defense of physicians, hospitals, nurses, railroads, other transportation companies, and class actions.  Charlie prides himself in working closely with his clients and risk management professionals to devise creative and effective strategies to reduce their exposure to current and future litigation.   But when necessary, Charlie’s record of success in the courtroom evidences his unyielding willingness to try lawsuits.


Charlie has a consistently successful record of trial and appellate work as well as a record of success in obtaining dismissals or summary judgments for his clients before trial and without the payment of any settlement.   In his practice Charlie has successfully handled cases involving highly emotional allegations against his clients and substantial potential damages.  That’s why Charlie is often sought out by his peers in the profession to act as an arbitrator or mediator in serious disputes. 


he was recommended by his peers as a Leading Lawyer (Leading Lawyers Network) in the practice areas of:

  • Class Action/Mass Tort Defense Law
  • Medical Malpractice Defense Law
  • Personal Injury Defense Law: General
  • Products Liability Defense Law

As well as recommended by his peers as a Best Lawyer (Best Lawyers) in the practice area of Railroad Law.

A sampling of Mr. Swartwout's jury trial experience includes:

Moore v. Railroad, November, 2008. Mr. Swartwout secured a defense verdict in favor of a sole defendant class I railroad in this case involving the traumatic loss of plaintiff's leg and a portion of his torso caused by the plaintiff being coupled by a railroad car. Plaintiff's wife sought claims for loss of consortium and economic losses. This case was tried to a jury in Madison County, Illinois.

Jones v. Railroad, July, 2008. Mr. Swartwout was involved in obtaining a defense verdict on behalf of a sole defendant railroad in a crossbucks only grade crossing accident. Plaintiff's husband suffered catastrophic brain damage and plaintiff's wife claimed loss of consortium and income loss. Following a lengthy trial in the Federal Court of the Western District of Tennessee, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the railroad.

Steinsultz v. Physician. Mr. Swartwout defended an orthopedic surgeon in a multiple count and multiple surgery case tried to a jury in Saline County, Illinois. Plaintiff claimed medical malpractice occurred in the surgical treatment and care of a tibia fracture, ankle fracture and wrist fracture. Mr. Swartwout secured a defense verdict on behalf of the orthopedic surgeon on all counts.

Patient v. Physician, January 2009. Mr. Swartwout secured a dismissal prior to trial without payment of any settlement for a gastroenterologist who allegedly allowed cancer which otherwise would have been treatable to metastasize to other organs of the body. Plaintiff's allegations included failure to properly perform the colonoscopy and failure to follow appropriate guidelines, treatment and testing for symptomatology indicative of colon cancer.

Coleman v. Hospital. Mr. Swartwout obtained the dismissal in this obstetrical case (brain damaged infant) for a hospital that had been sued for alleged negligence of the hospital administration and the hospital staff as well as negligence of a doctor who had privileges at the hospital. After obtaining the hospital's dismissal on all counts, without payment of any settlement, the case went to trial against the co-defendant, resulting in a $19.4 million dollar verdict.

Roland v. Hospital. Mr. Swartwout obtained the dismissal of his client hospital in this catastrophic brain injury birthing case.

Leonard v. Nursing Home. Mr. Swartwout represented a nursing home in this wrongful death case tried to a jury in Montgomery County, Illinois. Plaintiff alleged that plaintiff's decedent was caused to suffer a comminuted fracture of her femur and subsequent death as a result of the nursing home resident being dropped by a nurse during a patient lift which required, by the nursing home's own rule, the involvement of two nurses. A defense verdict was obtained from the jury.

Peach v. Defendant. Plaintiff alleged cervical disc herniations and lumbar disc herniations as a result of defendant's failure to provide a safe place to work and to use safe work practices. Plaintiff had orthopedic surgery with multiple vertebral fusions. The case was tried to a jury in Madison County, Illinois and a defense verdict was obtained.

Hughes v. Railroad. Plaintiff alleged catastrophic brain injury in this Federal Employers' Liability Act case. During the course of his duties, plaintiff alleged that he was riding on a box car and was struck in the head by a piece of equipment when passing railroad cars on an adjoining track. Prior to jury selection, the Court ruled that the case should go to the jury on damages only. After a one and a half week jury trial, the jury was only out for three hours prior to the Court declaring a hung jury.

Estate v. Physician. Mr. Swartwout and his partner co-tried this wrongful death case on behalf of an ENT physician who had removed a patient's nasal polyps. The pathology subsequently showed that brain tissue had been removed. Plaintiff's estate sought damages for the death of a 26-year-old wife and mother of two. Plaintiff's multiple experts faulted the sole defendant physician for allegedly rupturing the plaintiff's decedent's cribiform plate. The plaintiff's decedent's medical records revealed that the decedent had suffered from meningitis on at least two occasions. Plaintiff's experts discounted any significance of the meningitis. Mr. Swartwout was aware that meningitis was an indicator of communication between the brain and the outside world. Mr. Swartwout dug deep into the plaintiff's decedent's records and discovered that as a child she had been running with a toy arrow and had fallen, causing the toy arrow to go up her nose. Subsequently, Mr. Swartwout hired a highly qualified pathologist who was able to date the growth of the nasal epithelium to the meninges which, when subtracted from her age, matched the year in which she had fallen on the toy arrow. The expert pathologist was able to discern that the arrow had ruptured the cribiform plate and that over time the brain had disheased down through the cribiform plate and grown into the nasal epithelium. During trial, plaintiff's experts then attempted to fault Mr. Swartwout's client for failure to conduct an MRI prior to removal of the nasal polyps and for failure to recognize the historical import of two prior bouts of meningitis. In his pre-trial workup, Mr. Swartwout had obtained the MRIs taken at the time of the two separate historical bouts of meningitis and had obtained an ENT expert to prove to the jury, frame by frame, that neither MRI was sensitive enough to show the defect in the cribiform plate. The jury could not reach a verdict for the plaintiff at the conclusion of a lengthy trial and the matter was subsequently resolved for nuisance value.

Publications and Presentations

Mr. Swartwout is the author of Chapter Fifteen, Special Considerations in a Federal Employers' Liability Act Case - Defendant's Perspective for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and is responsible for the yearly supplement. On November 1, 2007, Mr. Swartwout presented "Expert Discovery, a Practical Perspective" in a continuing legal education seminar presented by the St. Clair County Bar Association. Mr. Swartwout frequently serves as a speaker to groups of physicians and nurses, as well as hospital management and quality assurance personnel. Mr. Swartwout has also made presentations to railroad claims groups on current topics in railroad defense.

Areas of Practice

  • Health Care Law
  • Medical Malpractice Defense
  • Class Action Defense
  • Railroad Defense
  • Trucking Defense
  • Insurance Defense
  • State, Local and Municipal Law and Legislation
  • Construction Law
  • Litigation and Appeals

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Tennessee
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • Southern Illinois University School of Law, Carbondale, Illinois
    • Juris Doctorate
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
    • B.S., Bachelor of Science

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • The Illinois Bar Association
  • The Missouri Bar Association
  • The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, Executive Committee
  • American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association, General Counsel Committee
  • Transload Distribution Association of North America
  • St. Louis Railway Club, Member
  • American Railway Development Association, Member
  • Missouri and Illinois Railroad Police Association, Corporate Counsel
  • Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys, Membership Committee and Membership Retention Focus Group
  • American Health Lawyers Association
  • Counsel on Litigation Management
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers
  • The St. Clair County Bar Association
  • The East St. Louis Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association of the Southern District of Illinois
  • Defense Research Institute