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Fat Chance (Hardback)

Diet Mania, Greed, and the Infamous Fen-Phen Swindle

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Medicine & Health

Imprint: University Press of Kentucky
Pages: 244
ISBN: 9781949669305
Published: 23rd February 2021
Casemate UK Academic

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During the early 1990s, the diet drugs fen-phen and Redux achieved tremendous popularity. The chemical combination was discovered by chance, marketed with hyperbole, and prescribed to millions. But as the drugs' developer, pharmaceutical giant American Home Products, cashed in on the miracle weight-loss pills, medical researchers revealed that the drugs caused heart valve disease. This scandal was, incredibly, only the beginning of an unbelievable saga of greed and graft.


In Fat Chance, Rick Christman recounts a story that a judicial tribunal member later described as "a tale worthy of the pen of Charles Dickens." As class action lawsuits against American Home Products began to be filed, four avaricious attorneys saw an irresistible opportunity. Bill Gallion, Shirley Cunningham, Melbourne Mills, and Stan Chesley contrived to a bring a class action suit to trial in Covington, Kentucky, where their hired trial consultant, Mark Modlin, had a manipulative relationship with the presiding judge, Jay Bamberger. Their efforts were rewarded with a $200 million settlement - a sum that the four lawyers immediately set out to plunder and misappropriate. Ultimately, two of the attorneys received long prison sentences, another was acquitted after claiming to be unaware of the grift due to his alcoholism, and one managed to escape criminal charges; all four were disbarred, and Bamberger was disbarred and disrobed.


Recounting a dramatic affair that bears conspicuous similarities to opioid-related class action litigation against the pharmaceutical industry, Christman offers an engaging if occasionally horrifying account of one of America's most prominent product liability cases and the settlement's aftermath.

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