Son of Connelly Container founder sues Pa. man for slander over defendant's claims plaintiff poisoned ex-wife to death

By Jon Campisi | Jun 15, 2012

A prominent Delaware man whose father founded the well-known Connelly Container

manufacturing company has filed a lawsuit against a Southeastern Pennsylvania man that claims the defendant committed slander when he accused the plaintiff of poisoning the plaintiff’s ex-wife to death.

John F. Connelly, Jr., who owns a consulting firm in the Philadelphia region, is suing Bryn Mawr, Pa., resident Scott W. Ryan over allegations that Ryan engaged in a 5-to-10-minute long “slanderous diatribe” against Connelly during a black tie event in Philadelphia late last year.

The lawsuit, filed June 12 at the federal court in Philadelphia by Philadelphia attorney Leon A. King II, claims that on Dec. 11, 2011, while both men were attending a dinner at a ritzy downtown Philadelphia venue for the Philadelphia Chapter of the Commanderie De Bordeaux, Ryan, in earshot of many attending guests, stated that he “personally knew that John F. Connelly Jr. had murdered his wife by poisoning her to death.”

Connelly was married to the late Jane Armstrong Connelly from Feb. 13, 1994, until the couple divorced on May 22, 1997.

The complaint states that the break-up was amicable, so much so that the two even vacationed together with their son, who is now 17 years old.

Jane Armstrong Connelly suffered an “intracerebral hemorrhage” on Dec. 21, 2002, while at home in her kitchen with her then 7-year-old son, Evan, sitting on her lap, according to the complaint.

She was immediately taken to the hospital where she was pronounced brain dead. Armstrong Connelly was removed from life support five days later; she died the following day.

The plaintiff moved to Delaware State from the Philadelphia area shortly after his ex-wife’s death.

The alleged dinner incident in December 2011 did not stop when Connelly initially asked Ryan to cease his slanderous activities, the lawsuit states.

“The Defendant, Scott W. Ryan, refused to leave his self appointed spot at center stage and held ‘court’ making an intolerable situation even more horrendous,” the complaint states.

In addition to making the false claim that Connelly poisoned his ex-wife to death, Ryan also claimed that Connelly had been the “instrument in having the hospital remove Jane Armstrong–Connelly from her life support system and then had taken action to circumvent the performance of an autopsy,” the suit states.

“The Defendant’s loud slanderous diatribe lasted 5 to 10 minutes and was heard by all in hearing range of his speech, as was maliciously intended by the Defendant,” the lawsuit states.

“Defendant, Scott W. Ryan’s comments and actions created controversy of a most vile nature, and fostered scandalous rumor, during the Christmas season when Mr. Connelly and his son Evan were acutely grieving the tragic death of Ms. Jane Armstrong Connelly that had occurred at the same time of year.”

Connelly seeks damages in excess of $250,000 for emotional pain and suffering. He also seeks punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-03310-CMR.

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