“The first thing one learns when representing mesothelioma victims, is that the success of those who profited from asbestos rises and falls on its ability to hide the truth,” said Troy D. Chandler, an attorney at Williams Kherkher. And he should know. A couple of years ago, Chandler took on the case of Samuel Allardyce, who contracted mesothelioma after a “lifelong exposure” to asbestos in his job as a welder. That’s when the “hiding” began.
Enter Dr. Jack W. Snyder, a physician and licensed attorney who was working full time as a senior official at the National Institute of Health (NIH), while moonlighting as a $425 per hour “expert witness” in a variety of criminal and civil cases across the country, with a special penchant for defending asbestos manufacturers.
When Snyder began working for the NIH, he was specifically instructed by an ethics employee to knock off the outside work. But Snyder secretly flouted this directive for years—that is, until he finally got tripped up during a 2007 deposition with Troy Chandler.
According to Chandler, Snyder told a series of “blatant lies” during his sworn testimony—some of which were aimed at downplaying his role at the NIH and the magnitude of his conflicts of interest, and others which were factually “in direct conflict with the official position of a number of government agencies.” Snyder’s biggest whopper: “[E]ven in the most extreme cases of exposure to asbestos…available medical and scientific literature would not support a causal connection to cancer.”
Long story short, Chandler was so incensed at the magnitude of Snyder’s lying, that he sent letters to his NIH boss, as well as the Office of Inspector General, calling for “an immediate investigation into Dr. Snyder's side work as a consultant.” Chandler’s letter also caught the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s office, an investigation was launched, and Snyder was eventually convicted of making false statements on financial disclosure forms to the NIH (related to his outside work).
But for Chandler, whose client, Samuel Allardyce, has since died, that comes as cold comfort. “In the end, [Snyder] was only convicted of lying. It reminds me of how the government got Al Capone, not for murder, but for lying on his tax returns.” Still, said Chandler, “at least this doctor’s lying career is over.”