Diet Drug Lawyers Gallion and Cunningham to be Sentenced August 17th. – Appeal Imminent

Laura Voorhees, the Deputy U.S. Attorney who prosecuted William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham announced that she is seeking 35 years imprisonment for Gallion and 30 years for Cunningham.  Considering their current age, this amounts to a life sentence.

 Reports from the defense camp indicate that both parties plan to file appeals of their conviction.  One issue being discussed by members of the bar familiar with the case suggest that one issue that is almost certainly to be raised on appeal is the ruling of U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves that allowed an expert witness for the Government to testify but denied the right for the defendants to call an expert on the same topic.

 The Courier-Journal reported on Aug. 13th. numerous comments by angry members of the class action defrauded by the two Lexington attorneys.  The comments present the suggestion that many of the 440 plaintiffs in the class action were denied medical treatment due to the reduced settlements they received when the attorneys paid themselves more than they were supposed to.

 Evidence presented in the civil trial indicated that all 440 plaintiffs signed two settlement agreements where they stated they were satisfied with the amount of money they received.  Those settlement statements were presented to the court who approved the settlement.

 Many of the 440 plaintiffs were unable to present evidence of any injury sustained from the use of the Phen Fen diet drug which formed the basis for the $200 million dollar settlement.  Some of the plaintiffs had been seriously injured by the drug. 

 An expert mediator was appointed in the class action civil case to determine the injury of each plaintiff and he recommended different amounts based on the reported injuries.  When he finished with his evaluation millions of dollars were left over.  Twenty million of this went in to a charitable trust authorized by the Cy Pres Doctrine often used to dispose of excess class action settlement funds.   The Civil Trial Judge has seized the money placed in the Charitable Trust.   No decision has been made yet on how these funds will be distributed among the 440 plaintiffs.  It would appear unfair to give each plaintiff 1/440th of the seized funds, as some claimants had real injuries, but many had no symptoms or injuries.

 An appeal in the Civil Case, is likely due to a number of procedural issues and legal issues which have not been finalized in the Civil Case which is being heard by Special Judge Roger Crittenden.   It is assumed that Judge Crittenden will finalize the Civil Case in the Boone Circuit Court after the termination of the Criminal case in Federal Court.

 One basic issue in the Civil case is the timeliness of the filing of the civil case, as the plaintiffs appeal time had run, and they had accepted their settlements.  The finality of court rulings is a looming issue that has largely been overlooked, but is likely to be raised on an appeal in the civil case.

 This case is likely to continue for years.

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