Darcy Proctor Tressler LLP

Proctor, Darcy L. Partner

Proctor, Darcy L. Partner

Practice Focus

Darcy L. Proctor is a partner in Tressler’s Local Government Practice Group. Darcy concentrates her practice in the defense of local governments in all aspects of tort, civil rights liability and employment litigation. She also defends private sector employers across a variety of employment law issues. 

A seasoned litigator, Darcy has taken dozens of cases to trial in both state and federal court. Clients trust Darcy to provide them with the best defense possible in court based upon her proven record of successful results. She also counsels her clients with training seminars, educating on best practices and loss prevention strategies to mitigate liability.

Professional Background

Darcy has devoted her legal career almost exclusively to litigation in both state and federal courts throughout the State of Illinois. Darcy has successfully defended local governments including cities, towns, villages, school districts, park districts and other public entities in civil rights, tort, wrongful death and employment litigation matters.

Prior to joining Tressler, Darcy served as lead counsel for the largest self-insured school cooperative pool in Illinois. She also acted as outside litigation counsel for the City of Chicago and PACE. In these roles, Darcy managed all aspects of complex, high-profile and high-exposure tort, civil rights and employment litigation, including extensive discovery and motion practice, jury trials and appeals, as well as risk management analysis and counseling for clients.

Most recently, Darcy was successful at trial in securing a jury verdict for the defense in a First Amendment retaliation federal case. Plaintiffs requested $13 million in damages. The jury awarded the plaintiffs zero damages.

Darcy is a frequent presenter on tort immunity, civil rights defense and employment law issues at professional associations including Defense Research Institute, Claims Litigation Management Alliance and National Council of School Attorneys.

In 2019, Darcy was admitted by invitation to the Litigation Counsel of America, the trial lawyer honorary society, composed of less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. Membership in this society is based upon effectiveness and accomplishments in litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels and superior ethical reputation. Darcy is also recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by Chicago Magazine.

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Defense Research Institute, Member of Governmental Liability Committee and Chair of Education Substantive Law Group
  • Claims Litigation Management Alliance, Member
  • Illinois State Bar Association, Member and Past Chair of Tort Law Section Council
  • Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, Member and Past Chair of Tort Law Committee and Board Member
  • Illinois Council of School Attorneys
  • National Council of School Attorneys
  • Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow

Recent Articles and Blogs

"Key Takeaways on the New Title IX Regulations for Higher Education," DRI Governmental Liability Committee Newsletter, 2020

"Employer Liability in Sexual Harassment Litigation," DRI For the Defense magazine, 2019

"Illinois Governmental Tort Immunity," Handbook, 2018

News

Representative Experience

Law Enforcement Litigation
Federal Court/Chicago – Howell v. City of Zion – Defense verdict in Section 1983 deadly force case arising from police shooting. Plaintiff asked jury for $4.5 million.

Federal Court/Chicago – Berryhill v. Village of Streamwood – Defense verdict in Section 1983 excessive force case arising from police shooting. Plaintiff asked jury for $1 million.

Federal Court/Chicago – Rivera v. Lake County, et al. – Favorable settlement on behalf of police department and detective in wrongful conviction case resulting in life sentence and 20-year imprisonment of plaintiff. Our client’s settlement contribution was less than 5% of the total settlement which exceeded $20 million.

Federal Court/Chicago – Sparing v. Village of Olympia Fields – Summary judgment based on qualified immunity defense for police officer on Section 1983 unlawful search and seizure claim, and probable cause defense for Village on malicious prosecution claim. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Federal Court/Chicago – Acuna v. City of Chicago – Defense verdict in favor of City and police officer defendants in Section 1983 false arrest and excessive force case. Plaintiffs asked jury for $10 million.

Federal Court/Chicago – Lopez v. City of Chicago – Defense verdict for City and police detectives in Section 1983 unlawful detention and interrogation case resulting in a false murder confession. Plaintiff asked jury for “multiple millions”.

Federal Court/Chicago – Estate of Michael Russell v. City of Chicago – Summary judgment in favor of City and police officer defendants in Section 1983 deadly force case based on bystander shooting defense.

Tort Immunity Litigation 
State Court/McHenry County – Clark v. Village of Fox River Grove – Summary judgment for Village based on tort immunity and limited municipal duty rules in consolidated wrongful death lawsuit arising from school bus accident killing seven of the student passengers and injuring 20 others. Case settled against other defendants for over $30 million. 

State Court/Cook County – Golden v. Village of Homewood – Summary Judgment in favor of Village in a drowning case based on no special duty defense. 

State Court/Cook County – Hernandez v. Berwyn South School District – Summary Judgement in favor of School District in wrongful death case arising from stabbing death of student by a fellow student at dismissal time. Successfully asserted tort immunity defenses based on supervision immunity, discretionary immunity and no proximate cause. 

State Court/Cook County – White v. City of Des Plaines – Summary Judgment in favor of City in wrongful death case brought on behalf of pedestrian struck and killed on City owned and maintained roadway. Summary judgment based on tort immunity for failure to provide crosswalks or traffic control devices. 

State Court/Cook County – Zepeda v. Calumet School District – Dismissal in favor of School District in tragic accident involving a Metra train and minor student who suffered leg amputation as a result of the accident. Successfully asserted discretionary immunity defense on behalf of School District and Director of Transportation. 

State Court/Cook County – Mulvey v. Sandburg High School – Summary judgment in favor School District and administrators in bullying case based on discretionary tort immunity defense. 

State Court/Cook County – Doe v. Cicero School District – Summary judgment in favor of School District in sexual abuse/molestation case involving teacher and student based on no willful and wanton misconduct and supervision immunity. 

Employment Litigation 
Federal Court/Chicago – Devine v. Outback Steakhouse – Defense verdict in favor of employer in Title VII sexual harassment employment litigation. Plaintiff asked jury for over $1 million. 

Federal Court/Chicago – Hall v. Thornton Fractional School District – Summary Judgment in favor of employer in Title VII race discrimination case brought by job applicant. 

Federal Court/Chicago – Nash v. Dolton School District – Summary Judgment in favor of employer in Title VII race discrimination case brought by independent contractor. Seventh Circuit affirmed on appeal. 

Federal Court/Chicago – Victor v. Ela Library District – Summary judgment in favor of employer in employment discrimination case alleging violations of Title VII and ADEA. 

Federal Court/Southern District – Dineff v. Granite City School District – Dismissal of ADEA claim of discrimination and retaliation brought by teacher. 

EEOC/Chicago – Heller v. Eisenhower Public Library – Dismissal of ADA and ADEA employment discrimination charge brought by former Director of Security. 

EEOC/Chicago – Armstrong v. Matteson School District – Dismissal of Title VII race discrimination charge brought by custodian. 

Illinois Human Rights Commission/Chicago – Buckner v. DCFS – Decision in favor of employer after public hearing on case worker’s sexual harassment hostile work environment claim. 

Illinois Department of Human Rights/Chicago – El v. Bloomingdale Park District – Dismissal of charge of discrimination alleging denial of public accommodation based on ethnicity, religion and race. 

Illinois Human Rights Commission/Chicago – Chapman v. Dolton School District – Summary decision in favor of employer on male principal’s due process and gender discrimination claims.

Title IX and 1983 Litigation 
Federal Court/Chicago – Sandra TE v. Berwyn South School District – Defense verdict in favor of School District in Title IX lawsuit brought by nine female junior high students alleging sexual abuse by their band teacher. Plaintiffs asked jury for $27 million.

Federal Court/Urbana – Doe v. Kelly, et al. – Defense verdict in favor of School District in Title IX lawsuit brought on behalf of a middle-school boy who alleged sexual abuse by a teacher on and off-campus. Before trial, plaintiff demanded $540,000 plus attorney’s fees.

Federal Court/Chicago – RJ v. Butler School District – Defense verdict in favor of School District and administrators on Section 1983 First Amendment retaliation claim and state law intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. Plaintiffs asked jury for $13 million in damages.

Federal Court/Chicago – Student A v. Butler School District – Summary Judgment in favor of School District and administrators in Section 1983 Fourth Amendment alleging unlawful interrogation and willful and wanton conduct. Plaintiff’s lawsuit sought in excess of $10 million dollars in damages. 

Sexual Tort Litigation
State Court/Chicago – Elementary school student alleged sexual abuse by his teacher on and off campus for over a year. Plaintiff alleged severe emotional damages, including suicide attempts, self-cutting and multiple psychiatric hospitalizations. Plaintiff demanded $7 million in settlement.  Defense argued school lacked notice of the abuse or risk of harm to plaintiff.  Defense also showed plaintiff’s psychological condition resulted from other causes.  We reached a low money settlement (confidential) in our client’s favor.

State Court/Chicago – A disabled female student was sexually assaulted on a school bus. Plaintiff alleged the school knew that the boy who assaulted plaintiff had dangerous sexual assault propensities. We discredited plaintiff’s version of events through the testimony of other students riding the bus. Plaintiff demanded $3 million to settle the case. Case settled for nuisance value.

Federal Court/Chicago – Elementary school student alleged sexual abuse by a teacher’s aide. Plaintiff brought claims under Title VI, Title IX and various state law torts. Teacher’s aide was arrested and convicted of sexual crimes.  Plaintiff demanded $4.8 million in settlement. We defended based on lack of notice of the danger and no evidence of willful and wanton conduct. Case ultimately settled for less than $100,000.

Federal Court/Chicago – Plaintiff alleged that he was abuse by his middle school wrestling coach years before claiming “repressed memories” until his memory of the abuse was triggered almost 20 years later when he saw the coach again at a school reunion. Defense proved in discovery that school was not on notice at or near the time of the alleged events, and defended plaintiff’s alleged “repressed memory” through  the use of experts to show that the theory was not plausible. Plaintiff demanded $5 million in settlement. After mediation, the case settled for a low-six figure amount inclusive of attorney’s fees. 

State Court/Chicago – A special education student was raped in a stairwell by another student during the school day when the students should have been in class.  Plaintiff demanded $12 million in settlement. We defended based on lack of actual or constructive notice and no evidence of willful and wanton conduct to establish liability.  After mediation, the case settled in the mid-six figures.

Presentations

"Title IX School Liability," Defense Research Institute’s Civil Rights and Governmental Liability Annual Conference, 2020

"Mitigate Don’t Litigate: What Employers Need to Know About COVID-19 Liability," Client Webinar, 2020

"Managing Sexual Harassment/Discrimination Claims in the #Me-Too Era," Claims Litigation Management Alliance, Midwest Conference, 2019

"Labor and Employment Law Update for Illinois Schools," Illinois Association of School Boards Annual Conference, 2019

"Hot Topics in Employment Litigation," Illinois Association of Park Districts/Illinois Park and Recreation Association Conference, 2018

"Dealing With Bullying in Your Agency’s Program," Illinois Association of Park Districts/Illinois Park and Recreation Association Conference, 2017

"Defending Public School Districts in Section 1983 Litigation," School Law Conference for the National School Boards Association/Council of School Attorneys, 2016

"Employment Litigation Hot Topics: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You," Illinois City/County Management Association, 2016

"School Litigation-Section 1983 Liability, Defense Research Institute," Governmental Liability Annual Conference, 2015

"Illinois Tort Immunity Update," Illinois Municipal League Annual Conference, 2014

"Defending Police Liability Claims," National Business Institute, 2012

"School Liability-Hazing Headlines Be Gone!" - IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Conference, 2012

"Civil Practice: Mediation Practice Tips for Tort, Civil Rights and Employment Cases," Illinois State Bar Association Law Ed Program, 2011

"Governmental Tort Immunity Update," Chicago Bar Association, Local Government Committee, 2011

“Practical Tips for Protecting Your Schools from Sexual Abuse and Molestation Claims,” Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Sexual Abuse Seminar, 2004