Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sixth Circuit Affirms Kentucky Fen-Phen Convictions

On Tuesday, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions and sentences of William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham for their handling of a massive settlement of fen-phen claims. Here is the  Sixth Circuit opinion, and here are news accounts from Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg. The lawyers had been sentenced to 25 years and 20 years, respectively. The opinion provides interesting and useful background on the diet drugs litigation and settlement, and it offers a picture of how badly things can go when mass tort aggregate settlements are mishandled. Because the Daubert exclusion of defendants' expert was an issue on appeal, the Sixth Circuit referred to my trial testimony as an expert on behalf of the United States -- I don't know whether I should be offended or flattered that I was accused of espousing ivory tower ideals, but I take some solace in knowing that the court thought the ivory tower had it right.


Ethics, Fen-Phen, Lawyers, Settlement | Permalink

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I have seen the aggregate settlement in the Prempro cases. There is confidential master settlement for the firm I hired where the lawyer was a member of the steering committee. The same basic offer may have been given to all of the firms. It is confidential. In other words the master settlement agreement on which the individual settlement agreements are offered to clients can be seen by the defendants which is Pfizer/Wyeth, etc., the defendants lawyers, the plaintiffs lawyers but not the plaintiffs. That is a huge red flag that lawyers are hiding any main agreements with the defendants from their clients. This confidential master settlement was signed before I ever knew that there were settlement offers. If I have this correct it appears I was offered a settlement after the confidential master settlement was entered into. The settlement offer I have states they need 100% or the contract could be null and void. When I would not sign, another law firm could offer me more money but could not represent me for anything else and the lawyer I hired does have a hold back fund. In the past the hold back funds have sometimes been used as slush funds to offer clients more money if they would not settle. All of the law firms that are on the steering committee that have settled and that I talked to, will not take more clients. I was told by one firm that they were doing this on purpose which is limiting their practice. This of course would be in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct 5.6(b)in my state. I would like to see all of the steering committee on the Prempro cases confidential master settlements opened up by the disciplinary boards and for these to be reviewed. If they have not done anything wrong then there should be no harm. What I know for sure is my case was not looked at or negotiated individually and the lawyers appear to be violating ethics rules, did not go over rule 1.8 with me even though I was asked to sign that it was. There is much more that appears questionable about what the lawyers are doing. It is hard to say completely what is going on and that is why lawyers should not hide this type of information from their clients or the public. I am hoping the other women can be warned about this when they consider signing these way too low settlements. As an aside, please know your blog has been very helpful.

Posted by: ethicalclient | Jul 17, 2012 6:11:33 AM

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