This seems to be the year of big-time plaintiffs’ trial lawyers facing bad behavior charges. The latest case is the Kentucky Three – wealthy trial lawyers who are now themselves on trial, accused of stealing $65 million from their clients in a diet drug settlement.
During the ongoing – and increasingly bizarre – saga, a new excuse has been articulated by the defense attorney for Melbourne Mills, Jr.: the accused suffered from alcoholism, wasn’t involved in the case and therefore could not be held accountable.
Yet, as reported in the Herald-Leader, a junior member of a law firm who oversaw the distribution of the settlement money testified under oath that he never witnessed Mills under the influence.
On trial with Mills are class action lawyers William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham, Jr. – all of whom are pointing fingers at each other for ultimate culpability in an alleged scam that cheated their plaintiffs out of about one-third of a $200 million fen-Phen diet drug settlement.
The story made national news when it was discovered that Cunningham and Gallion used part of their allegedly ill-gotten gains to purchase part of 2007 Kentucky Derby favorite and Preakness Stakes winner, Curlin.
Whatever happens in Kentucky, the famed Mississippi class action trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs pleading guilty to paying off a judge, and Bill Lerach entering federal prison next week for giving kickbacks to plaintiffs both underscore the need for Congressional oversight into the culture of greed and corruption growing within the plaintiffs’ trial bar.