Legal Ethics

Ky. Bar Recommends Disbarment for Mass Tort Lawyer Stan Chesley


The Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors is recommending that famous mass tort lawyer Stanley Chesley be disbarred for his role in a $200 million fen-phen settlement that ended with prison sentences for two other lawyers.

Chesley had charged $20 million to help settle the case for the plaintiffs’ lawyers, though his contract entitled him to receive about $13 million, according to a hearing officer’s report. The Board of Governors agreed with the hearing officer who found the fee unreasonable and said Chesley should be required to disgorge $7.5 million, according to stories by NKY.com, KYPost.com and Kentucky.com.

The Kentucky Supreme Court will make the final decision.

Two of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the fen-phen case, Shirley Cunningham Jr. and William Gallion, were sentenced to up to 25 years in prison in 2009 for bilking their clients out of $94 million in settlement money. A third, Melbourne Mills Jr., was acquitted in the same case.

Chesley’s lawyer, Sheryl Snyder, had argued his client was not involved with the convicted lawyer’s scheme to keep more money than they were due. He said Chesley was able to increase the total settlement from $20 million to $200 million and he earned all of his fees, according to KYPost.com.

Board chief counsel Linda Gosnell, on the other hand, argued Chesley showed “unbridled greed” and tried to thwart investigators looking into the fee, according to Ky.com and Kentucky.com.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Along With 4 Lawyers, Ky. Judge Who Oversaw Fen-Phen Settlement Also Recommended for Disbarment”

Story updated at 6:55 a.m. to correct a typographical error and on June 16 to link to subsequent ABAJournal.com post.

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