Lawyers Accused of Keeping More than Due in Fen-Phen Case

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Like hundreds of other plaintiffs in a case against the maker of the diet drug fen-phen, Connie Centers says she was never told the amount she was due, nor the total amount of the settlement.

According to court records, the Lawrenceburg woman ultimately collected eight-point-eight (m) million dollars. That was 800-thousand-911 dollars less than she should have netted from a 200 (m) million-dollar settlement in 2001 with the drug's manufacturer.

For concealing those amounts -- and overpaying themselves -- a judge found that the three Lexington attorneys who represented the fen-phen plaintiffs breached their duty to their clients. Special Judge William Wehr says the lawyers passed out money from the settlement -- quote -- "like it was theirs to do with as they wish."

The attorneys are Shirley Cunningham Junior, William Gallion and Melbourne Mills Junior.

Now 400 of the original 440 Kentucky fen-phen plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit in Boone County Circuit Court in northern Kentucky. They contend that up to 64 (m) million dollars was misappropriated from the settlement and want the lawyers to surrender all or some of their fees.

Cunningham and Gallion did not respond to interview requests. But Mills says he expects to be sanctioned by the Kentucky Supreme Court for failing to advise clients about terms of the settlement.