Stiff sentences for the two lawyers most closely identified with the Kentucky fen-phen settlement scandal. [Louisville Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald-Leader, Bloomberg, ABA Journal]. More: Howard Erichson, Mass Tort Lit Blog.
- The wages of addiction: former basketball star Roy Tarpley settles his $6.5 million ADA lawsuit against NBA and Dallas Mavericks [Randy Galloway, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sports Law Blog]
- One result of litigation-fed “vaccines cause autism” scare: parents turn to dangerous quack treatments [Arthur Allen, Slate; in-depth coverage at Kathleen Seidel’s and Orac’s sites]
- Julie Hilden on First Circuit “true statements can be defamatory” ruling [FindLaw, earlier here and here]
- More coverage of conviction of Kentucky lawyers for grabbing much of fen-phen settlement [Louisville Courier-Journal, earlier]
- Judge dismisses most counts in lawsuit against Richard Laminack of Texas’s O’Quinn law firm [Texas Lawyer, earlier; FLSA overtime claims remain]
- All but three of the outstanding 9/11 airline suits due to settle for $500 million [AP/NorthJersey.com]
- One needn’t make the Community Reinvestment Act a scapegoat for unrelated credit woes to recognize it as an ill-conceived law [Bank Lawyer’s Blog]
- U.K.: Woman who plays classical music to soothe horses told she must pay for public performance license [Telegraph]
You may recall the earlier trial of the Kentucky fen-phen attorneys who had stolen tens of millions of dollars from their clients ended in a mistrial for two and an acquittal for their third compatriot. This time around, a federal court jury, after ten hours of deliberation, found William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr. guilty of eight counts of fraud and one count of conspiracy. A streamlined prosecution case no doubt helped make a difference; defense attorneys sought to blame the matter on Stan Chesley, who negotiated the underlying settlement and received millions more than he was contracted to receive, and it remains mysterious why he was not charged. [Courier-Journal]
The retrial of disbarred lawyers William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham began this week after an earlier jury deadlocked; a third defendant, Melbourne Mills, Jr., was acquitted. The three had diverted to their own use large portions of a $200 million settlement fund for fen-phen plaintiffs. We’ve covered the seedy saga in depth since it hit the headlines.
- NYC judge tosses injury suit against Lawyers Athletic League filed by a player on Milberg’s team [NYLJ]
- Kentucky fen-phen lawyers Gallion and Cunningham disbarred [Lexington Herald-Leader]
- Worker’s comp doc claims he noticed abnormal lab result and told patient to check with his primary doc. Patient didn’t and harm ensued. Malpractice? [CalLaw Legal Pad, KevinMD, Happy Hospitalist]
- Federalist Society publishes text of Judge Dennis Jacobs’s speech on pro bono, but Chemerinsky digs in rather than apologize [PoL]
- Are HIPAA privacy rules suspended during emergencies? No, and what lovely situations that’s likely to cause [HIPAA blog, more]
- One of the more unusual personal injury lawyer websites is “like a touchy-feely hybrid of Myst and The Office” [Above the Law]
- Gold-collar criminal defense work? McAfee decides $12 million too rich a sum for defending CFO Prabhat Goyal [Bennett & Bennett, Greenfield]
- Sounds promising: “Texas Supreme Court decision could end peremptory strikes in jury selection” [SE Texas Record]
- Eeeeeeuw: House of Meats employees show reporter “they have all ten of their fingers” after customer reports human digit in her dish of oxtails [BayNews 9 Tampa]
- Press keeps digging into Joe Biden ties to asbestos bar [American Lawyer, more links in PoL roundup]
- Black eye for big law site FindLaw with reports that it’s been selling law firms links in editorial material, a practice sure to raise Google wrath [Oilman, Kevin O’Keefe/Real Lawyers Have Blogs, ABA Journal, Search Engine Land, National Post] More: WSJ on FindLaw’s denial; O’Keefe.
- Overlawyered favorite Fred Baron, of Rielle Hunter generosity, much in evidence at Democratic convention [Dallas Morning News, ABC News] Texas trial lawyer Steve Susman is only individual lawyer listed as convention sponsor [AmLaw Daily, scroll]
- As if legislative expansion of the Americans with Disabilities Act weren’t worry enough, 1,000 pages of new DoJ regulations will add billions in costs, as by requiring that 50 percent of miniature golf holes be wheelchair-accessible [Las Vegas Review-Journal via ABA Journal]
- “Bond reduced for two fen-phen attorneys” in Kentucky [Lexington Herald-Leader, more]
- Cozen O’Connor and insurers dealt big setback as Second Circuit’s Judge Jacobs rules they can’t sue Saudi government over 9/11 [Philadelphia Inquirer, more; related on FOIA, Legal Intelligencer; earlier here and here]
- Jury awards $500,000 in malpractice suit against D.C.-based plaintiffs’ firm Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll [Legal Times]
- Australia: “A serial protester who injured a policewoman during the G20 riots wants her conviction overturned so she can still practise as a lawyer.” [Melbourne Herald Sun, Julia Dehm]
- Speech tribunal in Alberta, Canada, acquits Ezra Levant over publication of Mohammed cartoons, and it only cost him C$100,000* [National Post, his site, Daimnation]
- Must not cover John Edwards-Rielle Hunter story … must not cover John Edwards-Rielle Hunter story … oh darn!
- U.K. version of a story we’ve seen stateside: noise restrictions threaten roving musical ice cream trucks [Telegraph, Times Online, earlier from NYC]
- “Lawyer Who Says She Was Chastised for Not Being Sweet Is Allowed to Sue” [ABA Journal]
- More thoughts about “going on disability” [White Coat Rants]
- Willie Gary perhaps less than gallant (though undeniably hard-hitting) in countering woman’s claim of sexual assault [WPTV, ABA Journal, Ambrogi]
- Arguing against release, federal prosecutors say millions in assets of two Kentucky fen-phen defendants can’t be traced [Lexington Herald Leader]
- Virginia restaurantgoers looking forward to sangria on sultry evenings [Lindsay Nair, Roanoke Times]
- “It’s true that [veep-buzzed Sen. Bayh] sided with Republicans on tort reform … but do Democrats really want to be the kind of party that makes litmus tests out of those issues?” [Patashnik, TNR “Plank”]
- Third Circuit strikes down ban on “depiction of animal cruelty” as unconstitutional, protecting both bullfight travelogues and those bizarro-fetish “crush videos” [Volokh, our 1999 report]
- Sen. Lieberman brought an outspoken pro-legal-reform voice to the Democratic ticket [eight years ago on Overlawyered]
*Levant can recover nothing from his tormentors because the so-called human rights tribunals are given a special dispensation from the normally prevailing Canadian rule of loser-pays.
- Judge Henry Lackey, who went to feds to report bribe attempt by Dickie Scruggs associate, gets award and standing ovations at Mississippi bar convention, says he was just doing a judge’s job [NMC/Folo]
- Related: should Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat have used official university stationery for his letter pleading leniency for chum/ benefactor Scruggs? [Daily Mississippian and editorial via YallPolitics, continuing coverage at Folo; earlier]
- Stephen Dubner: if lawyer/subscriber can sue Raleigh News & Observer over perceived decline in its quality, who’s next? [NYT/Freakonomics blog, earlier]
- Maneuvering over retrial of Kentucky fen-phen defendants Gallion and Cunningham [Lexington Herald-Leader]
- A Fieger sideshow: though acquitted in recent campaign laundering prosecution, controversial lawyer fared less well in lawsuit against Michigan AG Michael Cox; Sixth Circuit tossed that suit and upheld order that Fieger fork over attorney fees to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman over subjecting the justice to unfounded vilification [ABA Journal; fixed typo on Circuit]
- Citing long history of frivolous litigation, federal judge in central Texas fines disbarred lawyer Charles Edward Lincoln and his client and bans Lincoln from bringing any more federal suits [SE Texas Record]
- Faced with $18 million legal-malpractice jury verdict, Indiana labor law firm stays in business by agreeing to make token payment, then gang up on its liability insurer for the rest [Indianapolis Business Journal, Ketzenberger/Indy Star via ABA Journal]
After 52 hours of deliberation over eight days, a federal jury yesterday declared it was hopelessly deadlocked in deciding whether attorneys William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr. defrauded clients of $65 million in Kentucky’s 2001 fen-phen settlement.
After the judge declared a mistrial, the jury foreman, Donald Rainone of Erlanger, said jurors were stuck at 10-2 to acquit the defendants, and had been at that vote for much of their deliberations.
“We felt the prosecution just didn’t have a strong enough case,” Rainone said in a phone interview in which he strongly criticized the prosecution for being unprepared and focusing its case on only Gallion, Cunningham and a third lawyer, Melbourne Mills Jr.
“There’s a lot of people that had their hand in this,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that should have been on trial that weren’t.”
Rainone declined to say who else should have been on trial, saying he didn’t want to “get sued.”
Of course, that the prosecution failed to indict participants in the fen-phen scam who also stole from tens of thousands to tens of millions doesn’t explain why one votes to acquit the criminal defendant attorneys who stole millions–except for the fact that the defendants were able to blame the empty chair for their actions. If the defendants’ allegations about Stan Chesley’s role are half true, the question remains why Ohio disciplinary authorities have not so much as opened an investigation, much less failed to disbar him. But we will perhaps learn more as the civil trial progresses. Meanwhile, as Peter Bronson writes, “giving immunity to someone so powerful, wealthy and politically wired was everything that destroys public trust in the justice system.”
Judge William O. Bertelsman, who has taken senior status, has recused himself from the retrial; the new judge, Danny Reeves, will likely be requested to lower the eight-digit bond for Gallion and Cunningham, who remain in jail. Melbourne Mills, who was acquitted, says he has already spent the $20 million he was paid for his role in the case–a case his lawyer told a jury that he was too drunk to work on and didn’t understand the underlying law. Nice work if you can get it.
Off-the-record reports I am receiving about the trial blame prosecutors’ performance (such as failing to object to defendant expert opinion that contradicted the facts) and Judge Bertelsman’s instructions to the jury; it also seems to me that the defendants were given far too much leeway to argue the law before the jurors when the judge should have given a straightforward instruction that the underlying case was or was not a class action covering all future Kentucky claimants rather than allow argument over that simple legal question. (Answer: it wasn’t. The settlement with AHP explicitly says it’s a lump-sum settlement for existing plaintiffs requiring the attorneys to comply with Rule 1.8, and there is no indemnification provision contrary to defense testimony arguing otherwise.)