Back in January, the day before the Baltimore Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans in a playoff game, jurors in the Jacksonville residents’ billion-dollar lawsuit against ExxonMobil Corp. wore Ravens’ paraphernalia. Many of the plaintiffs’ lawyers from Snyder, Weltchek & Snyder wore purple ties or had purple beads around their necks. (Lawyers for Exxon, it should be noted, might not have shown their Ravens’ leanings out of respect for the company’s lead counsel, who are based in Nashville.)
The last person to enter the courtroom that day was the plaintiffs’ lead counsel, Stephen L. Snyder. And when he took off his overcoat, he was wearing a purple suit, much to the delight of everyone in the courtroom.
I mention perhaps my favorite anecdote from the five-month trial to illustrate that most of the light-hearted moments have involved — or were directly caused by — Snyder throughout the proceedings. This Monday was no exception, as Snyder provided a few laughs during the start of his closing argument.
— The always nattily-attired Snyder thanked the jurors for sitting on a trial that has lasted longer than everyone expected. “I almost ran out of suits,” he deadpanned.
— Snyder was in the middle of a point when he was interrupted by his co-counsel, Robert J. Weltchek, who made a correction. Snyder thanked Weltchek and smiled. “One more time and I’ll throw you out of here,” Snyder said.
— A comic strip-like cartoon, part of the plaintiffs’ PowerPoint presentation, illustrated Exxon’s unresponsiveness to an actual leak alarm from a leak detection system because the detector often went off for reasons other than a leak. It featured a boy holding a bucket filled with water. Snyder said the boy’s name was “Peter.”
This touched off murmurs about mixing up children’s stories. The main character in the fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, it was later determined, is not necessarily the same character as in the early 20th century musical composition “Peter and The Wolf.” Snyder held his ground.
“Well, I call him ‘Peter,’” he said.
DANNY JACOBS, Legal Affairs Writer