Cary Hansel, who was recently voted Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Maryland Association for Justice, is the founder of Hansel Law, PC (www.hansellaw.com). Cary has extensive trial and appellate experience, representing clients in civil rights, constitutional law and government liability cases. His broad practice also encompasses medical malpractice, business and contract disputes, employment law, public regulation, insurance litigation, products liability, and administrative law.
Cary obtained, and successfully defended on appeal, a verdict the Washington Post called “the largest made by a jury in a civil case involving abuse by Prince George's County police.” The groundbreaking case established that citizens can hold municipalities liable for engaging in a “pattern and practice” of violating constitutional rights under the Maryland constitution. This sea change in the law allows victims of government misconduct to introduce evidence of past wrongdoing in each new case, thus sharply raising the penalty for civil rights violators in Maryland.
Cary has also achieved significant settlements and awards in the area of unlawful and unconstitutional employment practices and discrimination. He has successfully represented numerous victims of illegal employment practices, including a young woman whose employer, a fast-food chain, refused to permit her to wear work-appropriate religious garb, a country-club waitress who was sexually assaulted by a club owner, and a high-level federal government lawyer who suffered severe harassment after her boss inadvertently discovered she was a lesbian.
In a whistleblower case covered in such diverse outlets as the Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone, Cary represented a Securities and Exchange Commission investigator wrongly terminated after uncovering historic security breaches and ethical violations at the SEC. Cary’s client came to him after having been barred from SEC facilities based on false allegations. As Cary soon demonstrated, the allegations were made in an effort to discredit the SEC investigator after he exercised his duty to disclose the wrongdoing he discovered to Congress. After less than six months of aggressive representation, including the filing of a lawsuit, the SEC was forced to drop all of its allegations, publicly clear the investigator’s record, reinstate him and pay him the third largest payment ever made to a federal whistleblower as a result of retaliation.
In a First Amendment case, Cary successfully represented a long-time government employee fired for being a member of the wrong political party. Cary’s work gave rise to legislative hearings and new laws protecting government employees from termination for their private political views. He also succeeded in reversing his client’s termination and obtaining a significant award.
In another First Amendment matter, Cary obtained the dismissal of a case in which the plaintiff sought to enmesh the court in changing the religious direction of a large church under the guise of challenging the election of its board of directors.
In an animal cruelty case, Cary represented the Humane Society in obtaining the first court order ever issued in Maryland to stop the use of steel-jawed leg-hold traps. These traps, which are banned in many countries as cruel and inhumane, were being used despite the widespread availability of cost-effective and humane alternatives.
Cary’s appellate career includes the successful defense of over $30 Million in awards, the creation of a new cause of action in Maryland, and the expansion of citizens’ rights to recover just compensation from governmental wrongdoers and insurance companies.
Cary has also filed amicus curiae briefs in the Maryland Court of Appeals on behalf of the Maryland Education Coalition, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Maryland Association for Justice, and former chair of Maryland’s Commission on Education Finance, Equity and Excellence (the Thornton Commission).
Cary is frequently invited to lecture on a variety of legal topics for organizations, including the National Business Institute, the Levin School of Law at the University of Florida, the Louis L. Goldstein Criminal Law Seminar, Maryland Trial Lawyers Association, and Maryland and D.C. chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Cary provided invited legislative testimony to the Joint Judiciary Committee of the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates in favor of the Equal Access to Justice Act, which was proposed in response to an opinion piece he had published in the Baltimore Sun. He was also invited to testify before the Judiciary Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates during its consideration of legislation requiring the videotaping of police interrogations, which was proposed after one of his cases brought unlawful interrogation techniques to light.
Cary offered testimony to the Maryland Commission on the Death Penalty warning of the problem of false confessions and the real potential for them to lead to the execution of innocent people. The Commission quoted him in its final report, recommending abolition of the death penalty in Maryland, a recommendation adopted by the legislature shortly thereafter.
Recorded Oral Arguments
Potential clients are invited to watch one of Cary’s oral arguments. He is the second lawyer to appear in this video from a 2010 argument before the Maryland Court of Appeals:
Cary is also the second lawyer to be heard in this audio from a 2013 argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit:
Although some of his most successful cases are those in which he avoids media exposure, when a client hopes his or her case will help drive larger social change, Cary’s cases are frequently featured in the media. He has been quoted in more than 300 newspapers nationwide and has appeared on television numerous times.
Cary’s reported cases include the following:
Cole v. State Farm Mutual Ins. Co., 359 Md. 298; 753 A.2d 533 (2000) (changing Maryland law to make it easier to recover fair compensation from an insurance company)
Wells, et al. v. Chevy Chase Bank, et al., 363 Md. 232; 768 A.2d 620 (2001) (amicus curiae)
Compucel Corp. v. Comm. of Internal Revenue, 2002-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P50, 284 (2002)
Moore v. Norouzi, 371 Md. 154; 807 A.2d 632 (2002) (amicus curiae on behalf of Maryland Trial Lawyers Association; the Court of Appeals held that, “We agree with the Amicus Maryland Trial Lawyers Association,” and adopted the position, which opened a new avenue of recovery for civil rights violations.)
LGB Group LLC v. John Booty, 2004 MDBT 1 (Cir. Ct. for Prince George's Co., 1/28/04) (one of the first trial court opinions reported under Maryland Rule 16-205)
Maryland State Bd. of Educ. v. Bradford, 387 Md. 353; 875 A.2d 703 (2005) (amicus curiae)
Kane v. Board of Appeals of Prince George’s County, 390 Md. 145; 887 A.2d 1060 (2005)
Public Service Com’n of Maryland v. Wilson, 389 Md. 27; 882 A.2d 849 (2005)
Prince George’s County v. Longtin, 190 Md. App. 97 (2010)
Prince George’s County v. Longtin, 419 Md. 450 (2011) (establishing a new cause of action and protecting the largest verdict against the County in a police misconduct case)
Jones v. State, 38 A.3d 333 (2012) (redefining the boundaries of the public duty doctrine to make it easier to recover fair compensation in cases of police misconduct)
Brooks, et al. v. Jenkins, et ux., No. 1499, Sept. Term, 2012. (Decided: December 16, 2014) (affirming one of the highest verdicts in history for the intentional shooting of a dog)
Rodriguez v. State, No. 0748, Sept. Term, 2012 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2014) (reinstating an award for over $18 Million at Mr. Hansel's request)