Federal Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Kentucky Fen-Phen Case
A federal appeals panel heard arguments on January 19th from two attorneys who were convicted of bilking clients out of millions in connection with a Kentucky Fen Phen lawsuit.
Sixty-year-old William Gallion and 57-year-old Shirley Cunningham Jr. were convicted in 2009 of scamming 400 clients out of $94.6 million from a $200 million settlement entered against American Home Products, the maker of popular diet drug fen-phen. Prosecutors say the two kept approximately 75% of settlement money for themselves, distributing the remaining monies to plaintiffs without disclosing the full amount of the judgment.
Fen-phen, a combination of fenfleuramine and phentermine, was pulled from the market after users reported heart problems related to the drug. Specifically, a number of plaintiffs involved in the litigation claimed the drug caused a serious condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension or PPH. PPH is a condition in which the blood vessels of the lungs narrow, making it more difficult to breathe and for oxygen to be pumped to the heart.
According to CBS News, Gallion and Cunningham, Jr. appealed their case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, claiming an error on the part of the original trial judge. One member of the appellate panel, Judge Ronnie Lee Gilman said that the way the two attorneys handled the settlement simply “looks wrong” in the eyes of the law. The panel agreed to take the case under advisement but has yet to issue a ruling on the appeal.
Both Gallion and Cunningham have been disbarred, along with another attorney who worked on the case, Melbourne Mills. The Kentucky Supreme Court also disbarred Judge Joseph P. Bamberger, who oversaw the settlement and also profited from it. Another attorney, Stanley Chesley, is also being considered for disbarment in connection with ethics charges he faces relating to the Fen Phen case.
In December 2011, the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments from Fen Phen plaintiffs who had sought and won a $42 million judgment against Gallion and Cunningham but subsequently saw the decision overturned by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. If the federal appeals court upholds their original convictions, Cunningham will be released in 2025 and Gallion will be freed in 2029.
If you or a loved one developed persistent pulmonary hypertension or other complications after taking fen phen, you may still be eligible to file a personal injury claim. The fen phen attorneys at Nadrich & Cohen, LLP are investigating claims from patients in all 50 states and we want to hear from you.
Call us today at 1-800-722-0765 to schedule your no-cost, no-obligation initial case evaluation. All cases are accepted on a contingency basis, meaning there is never a fee unless we recover a judgment on your behalf.