Thomas C. Lederman, a Justice Department attorney recalled for his meticulous preparation of cases, died Saturday at Sinai Hospital after falling from a ladder. The Pinehurst-area resident was 65.
Family members said the fatal accident occurred while he was clearing a tree branch.
Born in Syracuse, N.Y., he was the son of Donald Lederman, a federal public health employee, and Mary Antil Lederman, a high school French teacher.
As a child, he moved with his family and lived at times in Harrisburg, Pa., Little Rock, Ark., and Charlottesville, Va. He was a graduate of Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, where he was class president and excelled in basketball and football. He was named the school's best all-round athlete in 1966.
"I considered him to be the American dream. Everything he touched he excelled at," said his brother, Timoth Lederman, a professor of computer science at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. "We all admired him. He followed all the parents' rules and was the perfect first son. He was a goal-oriented person."
An Eagle Scout, Mr. Lederman earned a degree in political science at Harvard University and was a University of Virginia School of Law graduate.
He moved to Baltimore and worked for the Ober Kaler Grimes and Shriver law firm and in the Maryland attorney general's office. He then became a partner at the firm of Tydings and Rosenberg in downtown Baltimore.
"Tom had an amazing ability to master a whole amount of material in an organized fashion," said Diane D'Aiutolo, a Baltimore resident and a partner at Tydings and Rosenberg. "I watched Tom in a couple of cases. He was a very smart guy and incredibly effective in a courtroom. I learned to keep the kind of organized notebooks he did."
"We had basketball games on Monday nights, and Tom was a very good basketball player. After a game, we would all gather at his Bolton Hill apartment," said a friend and former legal colleague, A. Thomas Pedroni. "He had a great sense of humor, and he took his work very seriously. He stuck to his guns in a positive, honest and straightforward way. He was also a Virginia gentleman."
Mr. Lederman defended asbestos manufacturers.
"He was particularly well known for cross-examining physicians about medical causation and the state of medical knowledge in the 1940s and 1950s when asbestos was alleged to have been dangerous but federal regulations did not come out until 1972," said Mr. Pedroni. "And for all his legal competence, he was a great father who was always looking out for the best interests of his wife and children."
"He was very bright and he was a terrific lawyer," said William Sammons, a former colleague and partner at the Tydings firm. "Tom was probably the most detail-oriented and organized attorney I have ever known. He was a very good trial lawyer, too. Within the legal community, he had a reputation for excellent work."
Nearly 10 years ago, he joined the Department of Justice's civil division in Washington and commuted to the capital by rail. He worked in health care fraud and abuse cases and in commercial, medical and other whistle-blowing cases. Friends said he enjoyed making friendships while on his daily commute.
Friends recalled that Mr. Lederman liked rock 'n' roll, the blues and 1960s music.
"He was a brilliant guy who had a wide variety of interests," said Mr. Pedroni, a Cedarcroft resident. "He remained in good shape. He kept himself fit. He could talk politics, and he always knew a lot about everything. He read a lot. He also had the ability to joke around with his buddies."
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., where he was a member.
In addition to his parents, who live in Charlottesville, and his brother, survivors include his wife of 23 years, the former Marilyn Michalakis; a son, Michael Lederman of Baltimore; a daughter, Katherine Lederman of Baltimore; and two other brothers, Ted Lederman of Dallas and Terence Lederman of Charlottesville.