Cary Hansel, has been voted Trial Lawyer of the Year twice by the Maryland Association for Justice. 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.
After representing over 100 vulnerable female residents of Baltimore Public Housing who were forced to trade sex for necessities like heat and electricity for themselves and their children, Cary obtained a multi-million dollar settlement the Baltimore Sun reported was “the largest in a sexual harassment case under the Fair Housing Act” in the United States. Yvonne Wenger, Tenants to Share up to $8 Million in Settlement of Sex-for-Repairs Lawsuit, Baltimore Sun, Jan. 8, 2016. Cary’s work also led to the terminations of the perpetrators and the head of the Housing Authority, the hiring of 50 new maintenance employees, the clearing of the repair backlog, better housing and improved policies to protect residents in the future.
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.
In a case in which Mr. Hansel obtained the highest verdict in the country for a dog wrongly shot by police, it was reported that the Sheriff whose Deputy shot the dog “called Hansel a ‘good salesman.’” Brian Engler, $620,000 in Damages for Dog Shooting, Frederick News Post, Apr. 3, 2012.
In 2019, Cary scored the highest civil rights verdict in Maryland history for a correctional misconduct case resulting in a $25 million award for a young man who was detained awaiting trial when guards cooperating with gang members allowed them to attack the victim, rendering him permanently mute and wheelchair bound.
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.