Stephen J. Hughes

Former economist became an expert in representing victims of medical negligence

  • Stephen J. Hughes
Stephen J. Hughes (Baltimore Sun )
August 16, 2012|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Services will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Grand Masonic Lodge, 304 International Circle, Cockeysville, for Stephen J. Hughes, 57, a former economist and founding partner of the Towson law firm of Treanor Pope and Hughes, who died June 4.

Mr. Hughes, a longtime Ten Hills resident, was killed in an automobile accident near Oxford, England, that also claimed the lives of his two sons-in-law.

Mr. Hughes had traveled to England with his daughter, Angela Hughes Brooks, 37, a technical editor and writer, and her husband, Gregory Brooks, 39, a Catonsville graphic designer. The family was there to celebrate the recent wedding of his other daughter, Sarah Emily Pain, 29, senior producer for Penguin Group U.K., to Andrew Pain, 31, a portfolio analyst at PRUPIM.

The newly married couple resided in London.

According to a British police report, Mr. Pain was driving a Mercedes about 10 p.m. June 4 during a storm and swerved on the wet road to avoid an animal. The car left the roadway, hit several trees and continued down an embankment.

Mr. Hughes and his two sons-in-laws were killed instantly, while Mrs. Brooks suffered an injury to her arm that required surgery, and Mrs. Pain was sent to intensive care. Both women have since been released from the hospital and are recovering from their injuries.

The son of a Peterson, Howell & Heather vice president and a homemaker, Stephen John Hughes was born in Baltimore, and was raised in St. Denis, Relay and Catonsville.

A 1972 graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School, Mr. Hughes earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1976 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and his law degree in 1983 from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Mr. Hughes had been an economist with the U.S. Department of Labor until 1985, when he joined Miles & Stockbridge, where he later became a partner.

He was a founder in 1993 of Treanor Pope & Hughes, a Towson law firm, where he specialized in medical malpractice cases.

"Steve had all the natural tools to be a lawyer. He had a great intellect and all the debating skills. He began debating in high school and loved a good argument," said a brother, Carroll County Circuit Judge J. Barry Hughes of Westminster. "He was a natural."

Judge Hughes said when his brother was at Miles & Stockbridge, he defended doctors who had been charged with malpractice, and when he founded his own law firm, "switched sides."

"He had a big intellect and was able to bring complicated medical issues before a jury so they could understand them," he said. "He also had a big heart and a self-effacing sense of humor."

"Steve will be remembered for his unflappable good nature, his generous spirit, and his consummate skill in the courtroom," said a message posted on the law firm's website.

Russ Pope was one of Mr. Hughes' partners.

"He was just filled with uncommonly good humor, and when he walked into a room, people gravitated to Steve," recalled Mr. Pope.

"And when he was in the courtroom, he pushed the boundaries that I would never go to with judges and juries. He'd have them splitting their sides over something he said," said Mr. Pope. "That being said, he was a formidable adversary and very quick on his feet."

"He was a very prominent attorney who worked on the plaintiff side, often with people who had no ability to pay," said a sister, Lillian H. "Lil" Knipp of Catonsville.

Mr. Hughes, who was a former president of the Maryland Society for Justice, was also a frequent speaker at legal seminars.

Mr. Hughes was a Master Mason and had been the 2012 Junior Warden of the Maryland Palestine Lodge No. 189 AF&AM in Catonsville.

"He was a voracious reader, a critical thinker, as well as a masterful storyteller and humorist," recalled Mrs. Knipp.

Mr. Hughes enjoyed playing poker, golf and attending Ravens games. For the last 15 years, he had been a singer with a Beatles tribute band.

"When Steve was at UMBC, he acted in a number of plays, including one with Kathleen Turner," said Mr. Pope. "He had such a thirst for the arts and had a tremendous knowledge of plays and movies. He could recite lines and lines from them."

His marriage to the former Angela Atkins ended in divorce.

In addition to his two daughters and brother and sister, Mr. Hughes is survived by a son, Andrew S. Hughes of Catonsville, his father, Joseph F. Hughes of Catonsville; two other brothers, P. Michael Hughes of Westminster and T. Kevin Hughes of Eldersburg; two other sisters, Kathleen M. Heilman of Westminster and Maureen A. Shields of Newark, Del.; three grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

An earlier version did not include his son as a survivor. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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