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Patrick H. McCormally, assistant Maryland attorney general who worked on consumer protection issues, dies

Patrick McCormally earned a reputation among his colleagues in other Attorneys Generals’ Offices as one of the country’s most effective consumer advocates.
Patrick McCormally earned a reputation among his colleagues in other Attorneys Generals’ Offices as one of the country’s most effective consumer advocates. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Patrick Henry McCormally, an assistant Maryland attorney general who specialized in consumer protection issues, died Sept. 12 of injuries from a motorcycle accident at Mount Carmel Road and Single Tree Lane in northern Baltimore County. He was 41 and lived in Mount Washington.

“Pat was an outstanding lawyer,” said Attorney General Brian Frosh. “He was also a total public servant. He was completely dedicated and people loved him.”

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He was recalled as a caring attorney.

“Patrick was one of the most collegial, good-natured and caring attorneys you could ever meet. He assiduously fought to help consumers,” said William Gruhn, chief of the Consumer Protection Division. “He possessed a wealth of knowledge about consumer protection law, but was not pedantic.”

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He also said, “He could disagree on legal points without being disagreeable.”

“Pat came to the office a dozen years ago,” Mr. Gruhn said. “He was passionately committed to making the world a better place. Initially, he worked for free, helping develop enforcement cases as an associate in the Consumer Protection Division. After his stint as an associate, Pat was hired to prosecute cases involving home builders. For more than the last half dozen years, Pat handled a wide variety of general consumer cases that have improved the lives of countless consumers.”

He recalled cases Mr. McCormally addressed.

“In one case, a moving company had driven away with the cochlear device and leg braces of a disabled girl,” Mr. Gruhn said. “Pat took immediate action and was able to secure a court order within days requiring the company to return all of the family’s belongings, including the devices that this disabled girl needed to hear and walk. He then prosecuted the case to the fullest, obtaining an order for hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution for multiple victims of this company.”

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He said that Mr. McCormally worked on a number of large, national cases and earned a reputation among his colleagues in other Attorneys Generals’ Offices as one of the country’s most effective consumer advocates.

“He was a lead attorney in the national diesel emissions investigations of Volkswagen, Bosch and Fiat,” said Mr. Gruhn. “These cases have ensured that consumers nationwide will not be misled into purchasing supposed clean-diesel vehicles that instead belch harmful emissions into our environment.”

In July 2021, Mr. McCormally won a multimillion dollar award for consumers against AT&T and Cricket Wireless, for selling phones to consumers that would stop working once they merged.

“But Patrick worked just as hard on his smallest cases involving severe consumer harm, including working zealously to restore water services and utilities to tenants of small mobile parks,” Mr. Gruhn said.

Mr. McCormally worked on cases covering a wide spectrum of consumer issues, including the improper sale of pharmaceuticals, improper billing and advertising by national cellular carriers, improper sale of consumer electronics and home improvement scams.

He also worked a youth sports uniform company that took money from parents but never provided their kids with the promised uniforms. He went after debt collectors, illegal telemarketers, household goods movers [and] slumlords.

“Patrick was renowned for both for his good nature and his skills as a litigator, a rare combination,” Mr. Gruhn said.

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised on Capitol Hill, he was the son of Anne Long, a retired kindergarten assistant, and her husband Kevin McCormally, an editor for Kiplinger’s publications.

His father said Mr. McCormally was named after his paternal great-grandfather.

“It was the result of a bargain between his mom and her father-in-law that, if her second child arrived on his due date of Independence Day, he would be Patrick Henry. He was born July 4, 1980,” said his father.

Mr. McCormally attended Brent Elementary School and was a 1998 graduate of Gonzaga College High School, near his home on Capitol Hill.

He earned a degree in archeology from St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. He was a graduate of the Catholic University of America’s School of Law.

While a law student, he met his future wife, Niknaz Moghbeli, a fellow student. They married in 2010.

“My son was best known for his unlimited kindness, a trait that earned him a devoted army of lifetime friends from his elementary school days on,” his father said. As one friend said, “Pat drew out the good in everyone he met — and he intuitively knew to appreciate it in others. He was a grizzly bear in defending the things he loved, but his all-encompassing kindness is what I cherish most.”

An Attorney General’s office colleague, Alisa Bralove-Scherr, said, “Patrick was a fantastic storyteller. He could hold court like no one else. He had the best stories to tell and never tired of telling them.”

She also said, “Patrick had a true passion for protecting consumers. He loved fighting for the underdog and righting as many wrongs as he could. I took comfort in knowing that he was always just a few doors down the hall if I needed to ask a question or talk about a case.”

Mr. McCormally was an adventurous traveler and often traveled to explore foreign lands alone. He also traveled with his family.

“Pat was a talented attorney to be certain, but more importantly he was a wonderfully kind person, and a loving husband to Niki, his wife, and father to their two children. His larger than life personality drew people to him and he was always willing to help people both professionally and personally,” said Jessica B. Kaufman, senior assistant attorney general.

Mr. McCormally loved life.

“His love of life was contagious, his devotion to his wife and children unwavering,” his father said. “And, he really knew how to have a good time.”

His father also said, “Pat relished and excelled at his work in the Attorney General’s office, fighting the good fight for consumer protection. He suffered neither fools nor scoundrels gladly.”

Survivors include his wife, Niknaz Moghbeli, also a Maryland assistant attorney general; a daughter, Rumi McCormally; a son, Seamus McCormally; his parents; and a sister, Niamh Anna McCormally of Towson.

Burial will held at noon Monday at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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