LEXINGTON, Ky. - Attorney Stan Chesley, known for his expertise in class-action lawsuits, has arrived at his disbarment hearing in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors will hear oral arguments about Chesley's actions in the class-action lawsuit involving the diet drug fen-phen. A trial commissioner recommended disbarment for Chesley for his role in receiving millions of dollars in fees from the Boone County settlement.
The Inquiry Commission that investigated the case revealed startling accusations. The commissioner said Chesley worked hard to deflect blame with "egregious misrepresentations, if not outright lies, to the Inquiry Commission." In the report, Graham said, "His entire course of conduct was one of self-interest and self-preservation of both himself and his co-counsel. His actions set out above evidence a complete lack of concern for his clients and the proper and just application of the law."
Chesley was quoted in the inquiry that he was surprised and disappointed with the report.
The commission report says that Chesley failed to tell clients how much money they would receive in the settlement or how much lawyers would receive. In the opinion issued, Trial Commissioner William Graham recommended that Chesley lose his license and pay back the $7.6 million he received for the Kentucky settlement.
The Fen-Phen troubles originated in the 1990s with concerns the medicine was linked to heart problems. A decade of lawsuits followed. Chesley was involved in a nationwide class action lawsuit against the maker of the drug. The commission report suggests he forced his way into a separate Kentucky lawsuit for hundreds of clients who opted out of the national settlement.
The report says Chesley agreed to a 21 percent fee for his work on the case, but then, in a closed door meeting with Kentucky Judge Joseph Bamburger, the actual settlement gave lawyers 49 percent of the $200 million settlement. The report also says the judge got a paid position with a new foundation established with settlement funds.
The hearing is taking place at the Lexington Hyatt Regency Hotel and a decision on the case is possible sometime Tuesday afternoon. 9 News Reporter Tom McKee is in Lexington to cover the hearing and will post new information as it becomes available.