Charles W. Planek Of Counsel




Chuck Planek has more than 30 years of experience defending catastrophic, high-exposure claims in the areas of premises, product, professional and transportation liability. His civil litigation practice has grown to encompass general liability and workers’ compensation defense and matters as well. Chuck is adept at investigating, analyzing and defending underlying medical issues along with the factual and often scientific components inherent in complex personal injury and wrongful death claims. He frequently presents lectures on Illinois civil practice as part of the firm’s continuing legal education program for associates. Chuck also frequently handles matters at the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission throughout the state for his clients.

Across all areas of his practice, including more than five years as in-house counsel with two major insurance companies, Chuck has gained substantial mediation, arbitration and trial experience and has secured malpractice and general liability defense verdicts in Cook and neighboring counties in Illinois. He has completed the Northwestern University 40-hour mediator training course required to act as a court-annexed mediator, a role that requires a very different mindset than courtroom litigation. This program trains practitioners to resolve conflicts in a nonadversarial, non-confrontational manner. Chuck believes that in the future, alternative dispute resolution will be the preferred strategy for many of his clients.

Areas of Focus

General Liability / Premises
Chuck handles general liability defense of premises claims, including restaurants and hospitality venues across the state as well as numerous large residential buildings. He has additional experience in property damage and latent defect matters. Chuck represents defendants in federal and state court actions throughout Illinois. A recent trial victory involved a large property-damage lawsuit against a municipality that was upheld by the appellate court, which ruled that the plaintiffs were owed nothing in a claim against their own city. 

Workers’ Compensation
Chuck is part of the firm’s growing practice in the area of workers’ compensation, defending entities insured through commercial insurance companies. This 20-attorney practice area includes defense of large, national employers in high-exposure claims brought by employees seeking workers’ compensation for catastrophic injuries. Chuck is well versed in the medical nuances of the claims as well as the impact of rising medical costs on the overall program.

Professional Negligence / Medical Malpractice
Chuck is experienced with professional negligence matters involving doctors, dentists, nurses and health care facilities. He provides direct defense for professionals on individual cases in courts, before regulatory bodies, and in arbitrations and mediations. Chuck works with the clear advantage of Wilson Elser’s size and scope as a leader in technological case management, using the most sophisticated equipment available to research, synthesize and store medical and legal information.

Dental & Medical Licensing Board Defense
Currently focusing on dental malpractice matters and licensing actions before the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, Chuck has represented physicians and allied health care providers in hundreds of medical malpractice cases throughout his career. In collaboration with the firm’s Government Affairs practice, he offers clients a dynamic multidisciplinary blend of experience and innovative counsel in addressing complex state and federal health care matters requiring interaction with government.

Product Liability
With an emphasis on large construction equipment and medical devices, Chuck handles exposures that frequently extend beyond legal defense to the business effects on risk management, insurance coverage, brand image, financing, financial reporting, corporate governance, future corporate transactions and communications to shareholders. He draws on Wilson Elser’s nationwide network of consulting experts in any number of disciplines as the need arises as well as the shared knowledge of the firm’s integrated teams to help ensure a coordinated, cost-effective approach.

Focusing on truck and automobile collisions, Chuck combines progressive and established defense capabilities with years of proven litigation experience to consistently provide clients in the transportation industry and their insurers with sound and uncompromising representation. He has a deep understanding of the unique issues facing companies that transport cargo and people, first- and third-party liability, subrogation issues, and the interplay of legislation surrounding vehicle operation and ownership responsibility.

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