From Baseball to the Courtroom, Dan Gerber Talks About His Favorite Things
While Dan Gerber may not have always wanted to be a lawyer, he certainly found his calling. A partner in RK’s Orlando office, Dan has represented clients in the areas of toxic tort, class actions, commercial litigation, product liability and governmental affairs for nearly 30 years. His prowess in the courtroom has earned him numerous accolades from being featured in the 2007 National Law Journal’s "Winning Section" in which ten top litigators were selected from a multitude of nominations from around the United States to being nominated to serve as a justice on Florida’s Supreme Court by the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. In 2002, National Law Journal recognized Dan as one of the country’s top forty litigators under the age of forty and Florida Trend magazine has also recognized Dan as one of “Florida’s Legal Elite.”
Dan says he first decided to look into law school when he realized he was doing better in his political science and history classes than he was in calculus. He imagines that if law school didn’t work out, he would become a second basemen in major league baseball or possibly studying biology in a rainforest somewhere. But law school did work out for Dan and his early interest in trial work led him to RumbergerKirk.
“Many people said Rumberger was doing the best, most innovative trial work in the country, so I checked it out,” he said. “I’ve stayed all these years because of the people. We work together to solve problems for the clients and I fully enjoy the camaraderie and partnership we share,” he continued.
When speaking of his career, Dan is modest and humble and his formula for success is simple. “First be committed to the clients. Second, be interested in the cases and third, be willing to learn everything possible about every aspect of the case,” he said. When asked about any challenges in his work, Dan responded that there really weren’t any because he fully enjoys every aspect of his work. Perhaps that in itself is the key to Dan’s success. There are a great many of famous quotes of successful artists, business people and philosophers all suggesting to do what you love and success will follow.
Representing manufacturers of chemical products in claims alleging injury from chemical exposure involves complex cases among a wide variety of clients from pharmaceutical and pesticide manufacturers to distributors and sellers of chemicals. While the work may be complex, Dan relishes the challenge.
“I really like the clients,” he noted. “I think each one has a story to tell and I enjoy telling their stories,” he continued. It helps that he has the ability to understand the science behind the case. “I like to say that I understand the science well enough to explain it to judges and jurors without boring them or losing them,” he declared. In addition to having a firm grasp of the science behind his cases, he also has managed cases in federal and state courts throughout the country.
“Working cases around the country requires understanding that every judge in every county in every state is different,” said Dan. “It’s imperative to adapt to those differences in order to be successful,” he explained. And adapt he has. Dan has brought cases to successful resolution by trial or settlement in the federal and state courts of more than fifteen states. “Thom Rumberger tried cases in states all over the country. I got to watch him in action. He would go into a small town in Maine or West Virginia and go to two or three barbershops the week before a trial started. He got to know the people and what was important to them.”
While plaintiffs dressed up in hazmat suits tops the most memorable list of trials, Dan also noted one of his biggest accomplishments came early in his career while working on the 1992 Reapportionment Litigation for Florida. “We represented a number of minority voters in a civil rights action to fairly reapportion the state of Florida for Congressional State House and State Senate Districts. This case impacted 12 million people and ultimately important constitutional issues were argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.”
In addition to chemical, toxic torts and government regulation, Dan’s practice also includes commercial litigation and product liability. “This is never a cookie-cutter practice. Every situation is different. If you enjoy learning something new every day, it’s a great way to work.”
When I’m away from work, I spend my time helping my three sons grow up,” said Dan. Whether baseball, football, wrestling, basketball, track or lacrosse, we spend most weekends at some sort of game. And, while baseball is his favorite sport, Dan admits lacrosse is growing on him. “Lacrosse is fast paced and it requires a good combination of skill, size, speed and strength. Every player on the field has an opportunity to contribute at all times,” he noted.
Dan is an outdoorsman at heart. “When I wake up in the morning, I want to get outside right away,” he admitted. And, at the end of the day, I find some way to be outdoors.” From water skiing to biking on trails, Dan says there aren’t any outdoor activities he doesn’t enjoy. Moving to Florida at the young age of five, Dan enjoys the outdoor opportunities here. “It’s difficult to water ski anywhere else,” he joked. “I can remember water skiing in Michigan once. The water temperature was about 62 degrees—great incentive to avoid falling. In Florida, during the warm months, we ski about two-three times a week. We live on a lake. Our neighbors got us hooked,” he said.
“We also like to snow ski in the winter months,” said Dan. “We typically travel to Utah. Our favorite place is Park City since the boys are big snow boarders. They just love it there.”
It’s easy to see that whether at work, home or even on vacation, Dan is always on the move and living his life to the fullest.