Federal Judge Danny Reeves recently denied a motion for a mistrial by lawyers William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr. (now disbarred) for defrauding their Fen-Phen clients by taking more (much more) than their share of a $200,000,000 settlement. The motion was based on the illness of Gallion’s lawyer.
The case ended in a mistrial last year when the previous jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. The reason for the mistrial is subject to debate. One juror in the prior trial recently said that there was ample evidence of Gallion’s and Cunningham’s guilt:
Stan Byrd, a chemical salesman from Florence, said in recent interviews that the tally was 2-8-2 – two for conviction, two for acquittal and eight jurors undecided.
…Byrd said it took him only "about 30 minutes" to decide that Gallion and Cunningham were guilty, based on evidence showing that they had transferred large portions of Kentucky’s $200 million diet-drug settlement to personal investment accounts.
"You just had to look where the money went," he said.
A third defendant, Melbourn Mills, Jr., was found not guilty in the last trial. There was no question that the lawyers took more than their contracted for fee. In a settlement of this magnitude ($200 Million for 440 claimants), the trial judge has to approve the settlement and the lawyers have several hoops to jump through in order to show that the settlement is fair. When this much money and people are involved, there should not be any unanswered questions.
There was an obvious breakdown(s) here somewhere and they should see the light of day. Whether or not these lawyers are guilty of criminal conduct, their unethical conduct is a given. If others share in the wrongdoing, they should share the spotlight – whoever they are.
Cum Laude graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Pet Mackey is a civil trial litigation expert who represents plaintiffs in business and consumer tort, contracts and construction, employment disputes and insurance. He is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Certified Alabama Mediator, and an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell.