John J. Snyder

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John J. Snyder

Philadelphia

Tel (215) 575-4220

Fax (215) 563-2583

Bio

John J. Snyder is a partner with Rawle & Henderson LLP in its Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office. He is Chair of the Catastrophic Loss Group. He and his practice group are regularly retained in high exposure cases (demands commonly in the $30 million - $100 million range), often just weeks or months before trial, to try a case to verdict. In addition, Jack is Chair of the firm’s Medical Professional Liability Group. He focuses his trial practice on the defense of catastrophic losses with particular emphasis on construction, industrial, pharmaceutical, product liability, fire & explosion, and medical malpractice matters. Jack is a very experienced litigator, having successfully tried hundreds of cases to verdict in a number of state and federal jurisdictions, including those with known high verdict potential such as Philadelphia County.

Jack’s extensive litigation experience began as a Deputy City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia. While retaining his own case load and trying a significant number of cases to verdict, he also supervised 27 other trial attorneys while managing an active case load of over 3000 files. He soon succeeded to the position of Special Deputy to the Solicitor where he was responsible for defending high exposure cases on behalf of the City. Those cases involved general liability, premises liability, vehicle accidents and the defense of the Police Department in Civil Rights cases. Since 1984, he has been in private practice primarily defending catastrophic loss claims.

Jack has been rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell from 2003 to 2019. He was selected as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Construction by Martindale-Hubbell. He has been selected as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer from 2004 to 2019.

Selected Representative Matters:

The largest and most significant case that Jack Snyder handled since January 2016 was the In re: Market Street Collapse Litigation, which included 19 plaintiffs and 7 defendants. Jack and his trial team represented The Salvation Army in this civil matter resulting from the June 5, 2013 collapse of a vacant building attached to The Salvation Army Thrift Store located at 22nd and Market Streets in Philadelphia. The collapse, brought on during the demolition, crushed The Salvation Army building, killing seven people and severely injuring 13 more, including one woman who was trapped in the rubble for more than 13 hours and lost the entire lower half of her body.

Jack and his trial team took the lead in discovery for the defendants and spent more than two years reviewing and analyzing hundreds of thousands of documents, conducting hundreds of hours of research, preparing critical fact witnesses, and conducting nearly 100 video depositions, many of which lasted several days, and a few that lasted more than a week. He also oversaw the retention and preparation of approximately 18 expert witnesses to assist in defending the case, and preparation of several dispositive motions and dozens of motions in limine. He and his team spent more than six months in preparation for the civil trial, including the breakdown of voluminous deposition testimony and exhibits, analysis and preparation of thousands of exhibits, video presentations and animated recreations, preparation of key witnesses for their testimony at trial and, most importantly, preparation for the cross examination of the opponents’ witnesses. 

The trial began on August 29, 2016 with oral argument on more than 125 motions in limine, followed by nearly two weeks of jury selection. During trial, Jack’s relentless cross examination of plaintiffs’ key witnesses, including experts in structural engineering, architecture, construction management, demolition, occupational safety, and retail operations, was critical to the defense of The Salvation Army. The trial ended with a global settlement on February 8, 2017 after nearly 21 weeks and a verdict in the liability phase of the proceedings. The case was contentious, highly publicized and received national media attention.

According to the judge who presided over the trial, this was the longest civil trial in Philadelphia court history, and was reportedly the second-longest civil trial in Pennsylvania history.

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Karla M. Turner, Plaintiff v. Safeway Trucking Corporation, et al., Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County.

On January 12, 2016, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the defense verdict obtained by John J. Snyder and his partner, Tara Gill Nalencz, in an eight day trial before the Honorable Paul P. Panepinto in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Jack was retained only eight weeks prior to trial. At trial, Plaintiff claimed that she sustained injuries to her wrists and neck which led to her total disability when the school bus she was operating collided with two other vehicles on the westbound side of I-78. The other vehicles involved were a cargo van operated by Co-Defendant (Collision #1) and a tractor trailer operated by Jack’s client, Leoncio Castillo on behalf of Safeway Trucking Corp. (Collision #2). Prior to trial, the plaintiff’s settlement demand was $5 million. At trial, the plaintiff’s boardable economic damages were in excess of $2.5 million. On appeal, the Superior Court found that the determination that the sudden emergency jury instruction given as to Mr. Castillo had been proper.

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Zimmerman v. Pocono International Raceway, Inc., and National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Civil Division, Lackawanna County.

Jack Snyder and his partner Michael Sabo were retained on behalf of NASCAR after the close of discovery in a consolidated action involving three plaintiffs, two of whom were injured and one of whom was killed as a result of a lightning strike at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs were standing next to their vehicle in the parking lot behind the grandstands when it was struck by lightning. Plaintiffs sought damages from Pocono Raceway and NASCAR claiming officials were negligent in not warning fans of dangerous weather approaching the race. Prior to trial, the plaintiffs’ demand was $32,150,000.

Though he was already on trial in the Salvation Army matter, referenced above, which would continue for another seven months, Jack was actively involved in the case, including helping to prepare witnesses for trial, providing critical feedback and suggestions about arguments to the jury and weighing in on strategic decisions throughout the trial. On July 11, 2016, the jury found in favor of NASCAR, determining that it was not negligent.

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Jack and his partner William Carr were also selected as lead trial counsel to defend the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ in the wrongful death and personal injury actions arising out of the collapse of a parking garage during construction. The Catastrophic Loss Group was retained almost a year after the litigation commenced. In a condensed timeframe, the trial team monitored several OSHA trials involving the various contractors on the project, reviewed and analyzed nearly two million pages of documents, retained a dozen expert consultants, took and defended more than 250 party, fact witness and expert witness depositions, prepared scores of motions and legal briefs, and prepared for a trial which was expected to last more than a year. Despite a $140 million settlement demand, it was ultimately determined that Tropicana’s role in the accident was minimal and the cases successfully resolved for Tropicana.

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Jack and his partner William Carr were also selected to defend Ride The Ducks International (RTDI) and Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (HFEC) in both personal injury and maritime/admiralty litigation arising from the allision of a tug driven barge and a tourist duck boat on the Delaware River on July 7, 2010. The allision resulted in the deaths of two Hungarian students and numerous injury claims from other passengers onboard the amphibious vessel. Following an unsuccessful mediation and in a condensed court-ordered case management schedule, the team conducted months of intense discovery which included more than 50 video depositions, review of nearly half a million pages of documents, and consultation with more than a dozen expert witnesses and consultants. Ultimately, the case favorably resolved for RTDI and HFEC during the third day of trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before the Honorable Thomas O’Neill.


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Very recently, and less than 4 weeks before the start of trial, Jack and his partner William Carr were selected to defend Ride The Ducks International in the September 24, 2015 Aurora Bridge Collision Litigation venued in the Superior Court of Washington for King County. The accident between the amphibious duck boat and a tour bus resulted in five deaths and catastrophic injuries to more than 60 others. This trial involved 44 Plaintiffs. In preparation for trial, the trial team reviewed and analyzed approximately 150 depositions and more than 1 million pages of documents in a very limited timeframe. The trial lasted more than four months and required Jack and members of his team to move across the country and set-up shop in a Seattle. This extremely difficult liability case with undisputed catastrophic injuries resulted in a verdict of just 1/3 of the amount demanded by the plaintiffs. The case is currently on appeal. 


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Presentations:

Medical Malpractice Defense: Correlating Clinical, Laboratory, Brain- Imaging and Placental Findings To Determine How And When Hypoxic/Ischemic Cerebral Palsy Developed; Cross Examination Of The Expert, Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss Fund, Harrisburg, PA, November, 1997.

Defensive Posturing Through The Legal Process: Cross-Examination Of The Defendant Obstetrician In A Brain-Damaged Baby Case, The New Jersey Obstetrical & Gynecological Society, Atlantic City, NJ, June, 1998.

The Cross-Examination Of The Obstetrician Defendant: A Case Study, Zurich-American Insurance Co., The New Jersey Society For Medical Assistants, Piscataway, NJ, November, 1998.

Medical Malpractice: How To Defend A Brain-Damaged Baby Case, AIG Insurance Co., New York, NY, March, 1999.

Medical Malpractice: How To Successfully Build A Winning Defense; Cross Examination Of The Defendant Orthopedic Surgeon, The Academy of Medicine of New Jersey, New Jersey Orthopedic Society/The New York State Of Orthopedic Surgeons, Nevis, West Indies, April, 1999.

Medical Malpractice: The Use Of The Doubling Time Theory In The Defense Of Breast Cancer Cases; Cross-Examination Of The Expert, The Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss Fund, Harrisburg, PA, November, 1999.

General Jurisdiction/Civil Procedure, The National Judicial College, American Bar Association, Reno, NV, October 2000; November, 2001.

The Psychologist As An Expert Witness: The Construction Of An Effective Presentation of Testimony, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, Lancaster, PA., June, 2002.

Practice Areas

Bar Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • New Jersey

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals, for the Third Circuit
U.S. District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Pennsylvania
New York State Supreme Court, Third Judicial Department
Supreme Court of New Jersey

Education

Temple University School of Law (J.D., 1975)
St. Joseph’s University (B.A., 1971)

Professional Associations

American Board of Trial Advocates
Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association
Defense Research Institute
Aviation Insurance Association

Seminars, Speeches & Publications