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Famed plaintiffs lawyer disbarred

Stanley Chesley found guilty of ethical violations

The plaintiffs bar was dealt a bit of a blow yesterday when one of its celebrated lawyers was disbarred.

The Kentucky Supreme Court found celebrated class action lawyer Stanley Chesley guilty of ethical violations related to a $200 million fen-phen settlement. According to the court, Chesley cheated his clients out of millions of dollars, took an excessive fee for his work and helped cover up misconduct by other lawyers in an effort to protect the improper payments he was taking.

"While the good reputation he has enjoyed and his generosity serves to exacerbate the tragedy of his fall, they cannot atone for the serious misconduct he has committed in connection with this matter," the court said in its decision.

In the fen-phen settlement, lawyers were supposed to receive a third of the settlement amount; instead, the clients only received 37 percent of the settlement and the lawyers got the rest.

Chesley, who first made a name for himself representing victims of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in the late 1970s, will not have to pay the $7 million restitution the Kentucky Bar Association had recommended.

Read more about this case on Thomson Reuters and the WSJ Law Blog.

For more InsideCounsel stories about lawyers in hot water, see:

Attorney convicted of insider trading automatically disbarred with guilty plea

Disbarred lawyer pleads guilty to theft

Court disbars lawyer involved in $92 million mortgage fraud scheme

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Cathleen Flahardy

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