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Everett Charles Dann Jr., former Ellicott City resident and Baltimore liability attorney, dies

Chuck Dann was an early advocate of using technology in the practice of law, and urged his colleagues to embrace laptop computers.
Chuck Dann was an early advocate of using technology in the practice of law, and urged his colleagues to embrace laptop computers. (Handout)

Everett Charles “Chuck” Dann Jr., a former Ellicott City resident and retired trial attorney who worked on environmental and product liability cases, died of a stroke June 16 at his home in Los Angeles, Calif. He was 71.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Academy Heights, he was the son of E. Charles Dann, a Westinghouse Electric machinist, and his wife, Elaine A. Bonsall, a retail manager for Rheb’s candies.

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He was a 1964 graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and received a degree in political science from the University of Maryland, College Park. He was also a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, from which he earned the Order of the Coif and was a member of the Law Review.

Colleagues said Mr. Dann was a trial lawyer and counselor to clients — and also to his peers in the profession.

“Chuck had a keen and incisive mind. He could take a complicated mess and cut through it and make it simple,” said Kelly Hughes Iverson, his former law partner, who lives in Baltimore. “You would take a problem — a personal problem, a business problem or litigation — to him and by the time you finished, you felt the solution was obvious. He was a patient teacher too.”

He joined the firm of Semmes Bowen and Semmes in downtown Baltimore and was named a partner.

Until 1992, Mr. Dann chaired the Towson office of the Semmes firm. He then joined former colleagues to form Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Gray, later Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann LLP.

According to a biography supplied by his firm, Mr. Dann represented clients in a civil cases including product liability, environmental concerns, premises liability and insurance coverage. He defended product liability actions.

In the 1990s, he represented Robertshaw Controls when the firm was sued on issues concerning hot water temperatures.

“These cases of involved small children and the elderly who didn’t have the reflexes to get out of the water quickly,” said Ms. Iverson. “The plaintiffs were suing the manufacturer for failure to warn the water was going to be hot.”

She said he became a go-to lawyer in cases alleging tap water scalding from water heaters. “He won every tap water scald case he tried,” she said.

“His style in the courtroom was simple and matter-of-fact. When he explained a complicated issue to a jury, he could cut away all the extraneous material. He was impressive that way,” said Ms. Iverson, president of Bar Association of Baltimore City.

Other legal colleagues recalled Mr. Dann’s abity to mentor.

“Chuck taught me how to be a lawyer; how to think like a lawyer, seeing all the different angles,” said Stephen E. Marshall of Venable LLP. “He also taught me the necessity of making sure you took care of the details, the little things that can make a difference.

“His most striking characteristic was his ability to look forward, stay positive and make the best of bad situations,” said Mr. Marshall.

Colleagues said Mr. Dann was regarded as skilled in matters of insurance coverage, and represented clients in cases decided before the Court of Appeals of Maryland.

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After his retirement in 2013, he remained involved in a case related to the old Maryland Casualty Company and its coverage of a Baltimore mechanical contracting firm that was defendant in asbestos-related claims. The case began in 1989 and lasted for 20 years.

Mr. Dann recognized the importance of technology in practicing law. Colleagues said he bought an early laptop computer and urged his legal partners to network their computers.

He remained interested in technology and returned to school for a master’s degree in computer systems management from University of Maryland University College in 2000. He also held a Chief Information Officer certificate.

Mr. Dann enjoyed newspapers and magazines, and read works of history.

In 2014 Mr. Dann and his wife, Helen Szablya, former director of public affairs for the Enterprise Foundation, moved to Los Angeles from their Harbor East home to be near family.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Alexander Meiners; a daughter, Anna Meiners Morini, both of Los Angeles; and three granddaughters. His marriage to Carole Ridgeway Dann ended in divorce.

He had requested that no formal service be held.

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