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Fen-phen legal pugilist pays it forward

News Article: Fen-phen legal pugilist pays it forward

Cheryl Hall
Published: 19 November 2011 08:01 PM
Dallas Morning News

Kip Petroff wrote a tell-all book to keep from reaching for his nightly bottle of Grey Goose vodka.

The founder and senior partner of Petroff & Associates LLP made a fortune leading the legal attack against Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, the makers of diet drugs Pondimin and Redux (a.k.a. fen-phen). Petroff filed the nation’s first fen-phen personal injury lawsuit in the late 1990s.

But a decade of threats of both professional and financial annihilation – the kind of heavy-handed corporate intrigue and deceit befitting a John Grisham tale – took a severe personal toll.

Every evening, Petroff stewed alone at home, swigging down vodka and sometimes blacking out.

“As fen-phen spun out of control, so did my drinking,” says Petroff, who went to his first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on Jan. 24, 2007.

To fill the void at 5 o’clock, which had been his nightly happy hour, Petroff began writing his fen-phen memoirs – as therapy and payback.

Now he’s using the book to pay it forward.

The 53-year-old plaintiff attorney is donating all the proceeds from his self-published Battling Goliath: Inside a $22 Billion Legal Scandal to fund programs at New Hope Foundation, a nonprofit group that helps unemployed people in one of Dallas’ most impoverished neighborhoods finish high school and find work.

Petroff formed New Hope Foundation in late 2007.

“When you’re praying to God, ‘Get me out of this, and I’ll never do wrong again,’ and he does, you can’t then say, ‘Well, I didn’t need you after all,'” he says.