Judges 64 pages of instructions could explain why Fen Phen jury goes into the sixth day of deliberation
The Jury in the Fen Phen trial in Covington begins their sixth day of deliberation on Tuesday July 1st.
The Fen Phen jury has asked the trial Judge one question. This question gives some insight into the 64 pages of instructions, and may show why the 12 member jury appears to be having difficulty reaching a verdict..
The Jury asked:
“In a class action, prior to court ordered fees, is it legal to take attorneys’ fees on the common settlement fund once claimants have been settled and paid?” the jurors asked.
U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman sent the jurors a note back saying their question could be answered in the jury instructions.
The note referred jurors to two sections of the 64 pages of instructions.
Those instructions state a judge could approve taking fees off the top of the settlement but only after he was informed of the fee contracts the lawyers had with each individual client.
The judge who presided over the settlement, Joseph “Jay” Bamberger, testified at the trial he wasn’t told of the fee contracts.
The instructions also stated the clients should be given the option to object to any additional lawyer fees, something that didn’t happen, prosecutors contended at the trial.
The following language in one of the instructions indicates the difficulty the jury may have in finding criminality of the attorneys actions.
“Not telling the judge of contract fees or giving clients an opportunity to object may be a violation of court rules, but not necessarily a crime…”
If found guilty, each faces up to 20 years in prison and forfeiture of $65 million