Legal Ethics

Former Judge Disbarred for Approving Fen-Phen Settlement Without Checking the Details


A former Kentucky judge has been disbarred for approving a $200 million fen-phen settlement that enriched lawyers, paralegals and consultants more than their clients.

The Kentucky Supreme Court found that Judge Joseph “Jay” Bamberger didn’t request any details or documentation when he approved a deal that gave nearly half of the settlement money to three lawyers as attorney fees, the Courier-Journal reports. Two of the lawyers, William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham, were convicted in 2009 on wire fraud charges for defrauding their clients in the case.

The court found that Bamberger personally benefited because he accepted a position as a paid director in a nonprofit corporation created in the settlement, the story says. Bamberger returned about $48,000 he was paid in his new role after ethics authorities began to investigate. He resigned from the bench in 2006.

Bamberger did not comment when contacted by the newspaper.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Along With 4 Lawyers, Judge Who Oversaw Fen-Phen Settlement Could Be Disbarred”

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