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Stanley Chesley, Titan of the Plaintiffs' Bar, Crashes and Burns

Stan Chesley listens to arguments, during a hearing by the Kentucky Bar
Association board in 2011.


Stan Chesley listens to arguments, during a hearing by the Kentucky Bar Association board in 2011. Photograph by David Perry/Lexington Herald-Leader/AP Photo

The big-time plaintiffs’ bar justifies its multimillion-dollar fees by claiming to vindicate the “little guy.” Justice ain’t free, according to free-wheeling trial lawyers, and taking on (alleged) corporate villains requires heavy pecuniary incentives.

Sadly, the titans of this elite segment of the bar have a tendency to flame out in spectacular bursts of greed and deceit, undercutting their claims of righteous dedication. The latest example is famed class-action attorney Stanley Chesley of Cincinnati, for decades one of the leading scourges of industries that range from pharmaceuticals, to chemicals, to firearms.