Web Osi Speaks!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kentucky Supreme Court Disbars Fen-Phen Lawyer David Helmers Of Lexington For "Serious Ethical Violations". Stan Chesley Awaits His Turn.

Ky. attorney who worked on fen-phen case disbarred

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A Kentucky attorney who worked on the class-action lawsuit over the diet-drug fen-phen was permanently disbarred Thursday for his role in a scheme that cost clients more than $65 million from the settlement and landed two other lawyers in federal prison.

The Kentucky Supreme Court revoked the law license of David Helmers of Lexington, citing "serious ethical violations."

Helmers is the fourth attorney involved with the case to be disbarred.

The fen-phen settlement has also jeopardized the Kentucky law license of Cincinnati attorney Stanley Chesley, known as the "Master of Disaster" for his work on large class-action cases around the country. The Kentucky Supreme Court is weighing a request from the Kentucky Bar Association to disbar Chesley for his role in the proceedings. That case is pending.

The high court, in an order signed by Chief Justice John Minton, also ordered Helmers to pay nearly $40,000 to cover the cost of the disciplinary proceedings against him.

The court found that Helmers wasn't the mastermind of the scheme, but rather acted at the direction of several more experienced attorneys.

But, Minton wrote, "it takes no technical expertise" to know that deceiving clients, some of whom were "egregiously injured" by the drug, was wrong.

"That he did so at the direction of his employer does not permit us to overlook the serious deficiency in character revealed by the facts before us," Minton wrote for the court.

Helmers worked as an associate in William Gallion's law firm during the 2001 settlement negotiations, which netted $200 million. The fen-phen case involved 440 clients who said they suffered heart and lung damage as a result of taking the drug.

Gallion, 60, and Shirley Cunningham Jr., one-time owners of champion racehorse Curlin, are serving federal sentences after being convicted of bilking their clients out of millions from the settlement. Both have been disbarred. A third attorney, Melbourne Mills of Lexington, was acquitted at a federal criminal trial, but he was disbarred for his role in the scheme.

Gallion is not scheduled to be released from federal prison until 2029; Cunningham, 57, won't get out until 2025. The two men are appealing their convictions. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has not scheduled oral arguments in the case.

Helmers went to work for Gallion, then a respected attorney, while still in law school in Lexington. After being admitted to the bar, Helmers handled client meetings about the fen-phen settlement for Gallion.

The court found that Helmers failed to disclose to clients details of the settlement or that the attorneys had decided beforehand how much each client would receive from the settlement.

"Additionally, (Helmers) told many of the clients that if they spoke to others about their settlement award, they could face a penalty assessment of $100,000," Minton wrote.

Minton said Helmers was "inexperienced, impressionable" and may have been influenced by Gallion, Cunningham and Mills.

A state court awarded former clients of Gallion and Cunningham $42 million in a civil case, but the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned that award. That case is being appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Click it.



Blogger leachmark707 said...

I think that this disbarment was to be expected. Anyone who abused his or her position of trust to manipulated should be stripped of their title. They lost their clients a lot of money. It is too bad that they were mislead by an attorney this way. I know that there are a lot of really excellent attorneys in the Country, don't allow this one person to ruin your hopes of finding honest help.
Mark Leach |

2:40 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home