Louisiana Trial Lawyers Spend Big on Ads Across the State

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State Senator from Shreveport-Bossier seeks to curb over-the-top, dishonest ads

According to a new report, Louisiana accounts for a disproportionate number of local legal services advertisements – the ones that tell you to “Call now to get what you deserve!” 

“Louisianans deserve truth in advertising,” American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) President Tiger Joyce said. “Trial lawyers continue to dump millions of dollars into buying ads, and while it might help them get more clients and a bigger pay day, it’s the hardworking people of Louisiana who really pay.” 

The new report, released by ATRA, states that from October through December last year, $12.36 million was spent on local legal services advertisements in Louisiana. More than 75% of that went toward TV ads, nearly 22% toward outdoor advertising like billboards, and less than 1% toward radio. The nearly 180,000 TV ads that aired accounted for nearly 6% of all local legal services TV advertising across the country – though Louisiana makes up less than 1.5% of the nation’s population. 

Three law firms accounted for nearly 70% of all local legal services TV ads in the state – Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, Morris Bart Personal Injury Attorneys, and Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys. Combined, the three firms spent $5.3 million on TV ads in the three-month span. More than 80% of all money spent on local legal services TV ads was spent in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette. Of all the local legal services ads that aired on TV, more than 75% aired in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and Lafayette. 

“The problem with these ads is that the over-the-top, doomsday ads claiming lethal effects of medications can scare consumers to the point that they might stop using critical, prescribed medications prescribed without consulting their health care providers,” Joyce said “These ads undermine the simple notion that physicians and health care providers – not TV trial lawyers with catchy jingles – should dispense medical advice.”

One Louisiana state Senator is taking a proactive stance to curb these dishonest ads. Senator Barrow Peacock (R-Bossier City) is sponsoring S.B. 43, which would require more transparency in legal services advertisements related to medical or health issues. 

“We’re pleased to see Senator Peacock taking the lead on this important legislation,” Joyce said. “Passing this bill could truly save lives.” 

A 2019 FDA study shows the real-life consequences of these ads. The report found 66 reports of adverse events following patients discontinuing their blood thinner medication (Pradaxa, Xarelto, Eliquis or Savaysa) after viewing a lawyer advertisement. The median patient age was 70 and 98% stopped medication use without consulting with their doctor. Thirty-three patients experienced a stroke, 24 experienced another serious injury, and seven people died. 

Dr. Shawn H. Fleming, doctor for one of the deceased, stated before Congress: “It’s my opinion that the tone and content of these advertisements imply a qualitative judgment about these medications that are just not true. When you say call 1-800-BAD-DRUG, that clearly implies it’s a bad drug, which runs counter to current medical evidence and also to the FDA’s recommendations.” 

This year’s proposed legislation in the Pelican State is building on important work to address legal services advertising in previous legislative sessions. Last year, two pieces of legislation made it to the finish line: S.B. 115, sponsored by Senator Patrick Connick (R-Marrero) and signed into law, requires advertisements for legal services that mention settlements or jury awards to disclose the amount of attorney fees paid from a settlement; and, S.C.R. 57, sponsored by Senator Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) urging the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Louisiana State Bar Association to consider a “lawyer advertisement review recognition program.” 

Louisiana isn’t alone in the fight against deceptive legal services ads. In recent years, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia have also passed legislation related to this type of advertising.  

Louisiana is perennially named a “Judicial Hellhole” by the American Tort Reform Foundation in its annual report, and is currently ranked the fifth worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the country. 

The full report on trial lawyer advertising in Louisiana is available at ATRA.org.  

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