10/23/2008 11:00PM

Part-owners of Curlin disbarred


The Kentucky Supreme Court has permanently disbarred two Lexington lawyers who own a 20 percent share in 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin, according to a ruling released on Thursday.

Shirley Cunningham Jr. and William Gallion, the two lawyers, will be unable to ever practice law in Kentucky again under the order, nor will they be able to apply for reinstatement. Cunningham and Gallion have been unable to practice law since 2006, when the Kentucky bar temporarily suspended them for alleged ethical violations related to their role in the settlement of a 2002 case with the manufacturer of the diet-drug combination fen-phen.

The court had presented 22 instances of ethical violations related to the case, and Gallion and Cunningham admitted to eight of the counts, according to the order. The admissions included a failure to inform their clients about their fee arrangements or the total amount of the settlement.

Cunningham, Gallion, and a third lawyer, Melbourne Mills Jr., have already lost a civil-court judgment related to the fen-phen case that was brought by their former clients. The judge in that case has ordered the lawyers to repay the 440 clients $42 million of the $200 million settlement.

Because of that ruling, the 20 percent share that Cunningham and Gallion own in Curlin has been put in receivership, along with other shared assets. The 20 percent stake is currently being offered in a sealed-bid auction by Keeneland, with bids due by Nov. 5.