Study Released by American Tort Reform Association: Trial Lawyers Spent $186 Million on Advertising in Second Quarter of 2018

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WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 – Today, the American Tort Reform Association released a study showing spending and top media markets for TV ads from trial lawyers. “Have you or a […]


WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 – Today, the American Tort Reform Association released a study showing spending and top media markets for TV ads from trial lawyers.

“Have you or a loved one been affected by mesothelioma?” If it seems like these advertisements bombard television commercial breaks, it’s because they do. In the second quarter of 2018 (April 1 – June 30), nearly three million ads for legal services aired on local broadcast networks in the 210 local media markets across the U.S. – that comes out to $186 million spent to purchase these ads, often urging consumers to join a class action lawsuit.

The study looked at seven media markets and dissected trial lawyers’ spending on legal services ads – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, St. Louis, Kansas City and New York City. Nearly 15 percent of local legal services television ad spending occurred in these seven markets in the second quarter of 2018.

“These ads from plaintiffs’ attorneys, while many times irritating, can also have detrimental effects,” Sherman Joyce, President of the American Tort Reform Association said. “The ads will often claim a certain prescription or medical device can cause harm, and without consulting a doctor, consumers will sometimes stop use due to the false alarm created by unfounded advertisements.”

In 2016, the FDA showed that 61 patients stopped using their prescribed blood-thinner medications, Xarelto or Pradaxa, after viewing these commercials. Six of those 61 patients died – three from stroke, one from cardiac arrest, one from a pulmonary embolism, and one from an unreported cause. Dr. Ilana Kutinsky, the doctor for one of the deceased, directly associated these ads with patients’ deaths in a recent Forbes article. “Patients are dying because they are afraid to take the medications prescribed for them due to the fear brought on by these negative and one-sided campaigns,” Dr. Kutinsky said.

In the United States’ largest media market, New York City, more than 22,000 legal services ads aired – at a cost of nearly $6.4 million during the three-month period. Viewers in New York City saw 20 times as many ads for legal services as they did ads for pizza delivery and restaurants.

On the west coast, California’s Top 2 media markets – Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area – had hefty spends between April and June at $7.6 million and $1.8 million respectively. Los Angeles area viewers saw 18 legal services ads every hour – that’s seven times as many ads as viewers saw for pizza delivery and restaurants. San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose area viewers fared only slightly better than their neighbors to the south – Bay Area viewers were subjected to 10 ads per hour in the same time frame.

Other top media markets between April and June for spending on ads by trial lawyers are:

  • Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida – 58,000 ads for $4.7 million
  • Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – 33,000 ads for $4.9 million
  • St. Louis, Missouri – 14,000 ads for $860,000
  • Kansas City, Missouri – 23,000 ads for $1.2 million

To view the full report on trial lawyer advertising, click here.

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About the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA): Founded in 1986, ATRA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with affiliated coalitions in more than 40 states. It is the nation’s only organization dedicated exclusively to reforming the civil justice system through education and legislative enactment, and acts as a nationwide network of state-based liability reform coalitions backed by 135,000 grassroots supporters. ATRA works to bring greater fairness, predictability and efficiency to America’s civil justice system. Those efforts have resulted in the enactment of state and federal laws that make the system fairer for everyone.

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