Two disbarred Kentucky product liability attorneys were found guilty of stealing from a $200 million diet-drug settlement fund. U.S. District Judge sentenced the Kentucky trail lawyers who litigated fen-phen product liability claims to 20 and 25 years in prison.

Two Kentucky product liability attorneys convicted of a fraud scheme from stealing millions from a settlement fund were sentenced by a District Court Judge.

Covington, KY–Two disbarred Kentucky civil trial attorneys, who litigated a class action drug injury claim against Wyeth, the makers of fen-phen, a combination diet drug regimen, were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Covington, Kentucky, earlier this week as reported by Bloomberg. U.S. District Judge, Danny Reeves, handed down a 25 year prison sentence to convicted product liability attorney, William Gallion, and a 20 year prison sentence to fellow product liability attorney, Shirley Cunningham Jr. Both of the former Kentucky civil trial attorneys were convicted by a jury, in April, on nine criminal counts including conspiracy and wire fraud. The former legal advocates were also ordered to pay $127.7 million to the victims of the fraud scheme which consisted of 421 former class action clients they represented in the drug injury lawsuit.

According to court documents, the District Court Judge’s sentencing was a message to other civil trial attorneys who may consider stealing money from their client’s settlement funds. Bloomberg reported Gallion and Cunningham failed to inform clients about the settlement amount which was agreed upon between American Home Products Corp., the former manufacturer of both diet drugs acquired by Wyeth. The diet pills used in a combination dosing for obese patients needing to loose weight, known as Pondimin (fenfluramine) and Redux (dexfenfluramine), were recalled after numerous reports and accusations of the combination drugs causing pulmonary hypertension and patient death. Fen-phen was approved for safe use by obese patients by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and later recalled after the reports and evidence of injury and death in patient use.

Criminal defense attorneys representing the convicted civil trial litigators, in the case U.S. V. Gallion, 07-CR-39, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky (Frankfort), stated the men were inexperienced with large class action settlements and were acting on the suggestion of another attorney, Cincinnati trial lawyer, Stan Chelsey. The Ohio trial attorney, Chelsey, who advised the convicted men on their fee structure and management of the $200 million fen-phen settlement testified against them under immunity from the criminal prosecuting attorneys.

Product liability lawsuit information by legal news reporter Heather L. Ryan.