Comair Crash: Who is Representing the Families?

Ranking Republican AND Democratic officials were involved in the "Bluegrass Conspiracy" (see postings in the September archive). That's why one of the key legal representatives of the Comair families was an unfortunate choice ... among other reasons. - AC

Comair on Lexington:
Be careful
By Jeffrey McMurray

"... STAN CHESLEY, a Cincinnati attorney ... is representing the families of victims in a lawsuit against Comair...."
As I've maintained from the start, the Comair crash was a political act, not an accident. You therefore expect the leading lawyer in the case to have political connections. That's what I went searching for, and sure enough ... Chesley is a Democrat financial whiz, but "While he generally gives to Democrats and raises money for them, he also helps some Republicans." He's an equal-opportunity opportunist:

March 24, 1999

Chesley helps fill Clinton treasure chest
President makes lawyer's home frequent stop

Cincinnati Enquirer

Over the past eight years — since Mr. Chesley met Mr. Clinton, then the Arkansas governor, at a social event in Columbus — there are few who have raised more money for the Clinton-Gore campaigns and the Democratic National Committee than the 62-year-old Cincinnati lawyer.

In the past year, he has hosted three major fund-raising events for the national Democratic Party's campaign committees at his home. At the last event, in September, Mr. Clinton was the featured attraction and tickets went for $10,000 per couple.

In 1996, when Mr. Clinton was campaigning for re-election, Mr. Chesley raised at least $2 million for the Democratic Party in a series of a fund-raisers featuring the president, Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper Gore.

In a town where Republican money and political power are dominant and where Republican campaign money flows from sources such as financier Carl Lindner and Cintas President Richard Farmer, Mr. Chesley has been an oasis for the national Democratic Party....

In the process, he has built a relationship with Mr. Clinton that has put him near the center of power in Washington — traveling with the president to Israel on peace missions, front and center at Rose Garden ceremonies and East Room state dinners, and on overnighters in the Lincoln Bedroom.

While he generally gives to Democrats and raises money for them, he also helps some Republicans. Last fall, the week after Mr. Clinton visited his home for a fund-raiser, Mr. Chesley held a fund-raiser for Cincinnati Republican Joe Deters, who was elected Ohio's treasurer in November.

His political involvement started in earnest in the 1980s, when he became a close friend of former Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste. Mr. Chesley represented Mr. Celeste in legal matters and helped raised money for his successful 1982 campaign to win the governor's office. The governor rewarded him with a seat on the board of trustees of the University of Cincinnati, where Mr. Chesley earned his undergraduate and law degrees.

It was Mr. Celeste who, in 1991, introduced Mr. Chesley to the Arkansas governor who was then putting together a presidential campaign organization....

Last March, consumer advocate Ralph Nader's Public Citizen group criticized Mr. Clinton for attending a fund-raiser at Mr. Chesley's home. At the time, Mr. Chesley was a member of a committee of lawyers representing millions of smokers against the tobacco companies while the Clinton administration was involved in the debate over tobacco legislation. A number of other lawyers involved in tobacco litigation were at the March fund-raiser.

“People think ... that there is some hidden agenda in my friendship with the president,” Mr. Chesley said. “I'm very sensitive about it. I tell you, I do this out of respect and loyalty. I believe you go home with the girl who brought you.”
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Kentucky judge resigns after public reprimand 
Misconduct alleged in diet-drug case
By Andrew Wolfson

In a new lawsuit, about 200 of the 431 plaintiffs in the settlement have demanded that their attorneys -- Melbourne Mills Jr., William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham of Kentucky and Stan Chesley of Cincinnati -- surrender excess fees.

That suit, pending in Boone Circuit Court, notes that "astonishingly, more than one-half of the total settlement funds" ended up in the lawyers' hands.

Also See


3 lawyers kept millions from victims
Amounts concealed, difference pocketed

Chesley's role in case at issue
Post staff report

Cincinnati attorney Stanley Chesley is not off the hook, but he's not on it, either, in the ongoing court challenge of the settlement of a massive class action lawsuit against the maker of the diet drug combination fen-phen.

Last month, Senior Judge William Wehr ruled that three central Kentucky attorneys -- Melbourne Mills Jr., William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham -- who represented more than 400 clients in the lawsuit deceived their clients out of tens of millions of dollars from a $200 million settlement reached in 2002.

The attorneys took $100 million in fees and expenses and another $20 million to set up a charitable fund that paid them more in income and expenses than it gave in grants to nonprofit organizations.

Wehr's ruling came in a lawsuit filed in December 2004 by Lexington Attorney Angela Ford against the fund and all of the attorneys in the case - the three representing the plaintiffs and Chesley, whom those attorneys hired to negotiate with the drug company.

Ford is seeking to recover for her clients some of the money paid to the attorneys, as well as the money allocated for the fund and its operation.
Ford, attorneys for the lawyers she is suing and for the fund met in Wehr's Boone County courtroom Wednesday to deal with several motions and to put information on the record for further decisions in the case, including whether to impose punitive damages on the attorneys, how to deal with the fund and whether Chesley should remain a defendant in the suit.

Wehr allowed Ford to amend her complaint to adjust the number of plaintiffs to 421, but put other decisions on hold until attorneys present briefs in two weeks.

Wehr decided to allow continued discovery about Chesley's involvement while the case moves through the court and to almost sure appeal.
In arguing Wednesday that Chesley should be dismissed from the suit, his attorney, Frank Benton IV, said that Chesley was the lead attorney in negotiations with the drug company and his involvement stopped there. Chesley did not represent any of the clients, was out of the case before the money was distributed, had no part in setting up the fund and should be dismissed from the suit, Benton said.

But Ford countered that Chesley clearly should have known that the money the three lawyers shared was far beyond the norm and that his own payment, which reflected a percentage of what the three lawyers shared, was excessive.

Wehr said he would not dismiss Chesley from the suit and would not grant Ford the summary judgment she had sought, but would take more information.

"There are factual issues that preclude a summary judgment or a dismissal," Wehr said.

Trial Lawyers Pour Money Into Democrats' Chests

And money is what it is all about. "When it comes to political action, corporate America was the pioneer in spending money on campaigns," said Stanley M. Chesley, a Cincinnati lawyer whose firm gave the Democrats $122,500. "They make trial lawyers look like Mickey Mouse. So trial lawyers are attempting not only to catch up, but to be a copy cat.

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