Between TV ads and billboards, it’s no secret that plaintiff lawyers are essentially cornering the market on local advertising in Louisiana. Everybody’s aware of it and everybody’s talking about it, so much so that earlier in this year’s legislative session there was a bill, probably unconstitutional but definitely entertaining, that would have sharply restricted who could advertise on billboards around the state and how. Furthermore, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry last month fired off a letter to the state bar association demanding it get a handle on the out-of-control ad wars among the plaintiff lawyers, and nobody was particularly incensed by it.
But the American Tort Reform Association has done something nobody else has about this issue – they went out and got the facts about how much TV advertising the plaintiff lawyers are doing, and the numbers are amazing. Here’s a press release put out yesterday by Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch…
Television viewers in Louisiana’s three largest media markets were bombarded by more than 250,000 ads for lawyers, lawsuits and legal services in the second half of 2018, according to a new report released today by the American Tort Reform Association. That translates into one legal services ad aired every minute on average in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport, purchased at an estimated cost of $16 million.
The report was released as the House of Representatives is expected vote on a measure requesting the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Louisiana State Bar Association to review the rules governing solicitation advertising by attorneys. While Louisiana law prohibits lawyers from engaging in ‘false and misleading’ advertising, enforcement of that standard is left to the state bar.
With the proliferation of advertising by personal injury lawyers across the state, it should come as no surprise that the number of general auto accident claims is in line with the national average, but bodily injury claims are nearly twice the average in Louisiana. Further, most Louisiana drivers are uninsured or underinsured, encouraging drivers to turn to the court system to get larger payouts when an accident occurs. To compensate for this onslaught of lawsuits, Louisianans are forced to pay higher premiums.
“The trial bar is spending millions on often misleading ads promising ‘jackpot justice’ across Louisiana and impacting everything from auto insurance rates – the second-highest in the U.S. – to the cost of basic goods and services. You can’t turn on a television in any part of the state without being inundated,” said Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch Executive Director Lana Venable.
In the New Orleans market, the report found nearly $7 million was spent on 121,000 ads in the last half of 2018. Nearly a quarter of these ads were related to asbestos/mesothelioma ($1.4 million), pharmaceutical drugs ($213,000) and medical devices ($24,000).
In neighboring Baton Rouge during the same timeframe, more than $6 million (or about $1 million per month) was spent on a total of 80,000 legal ads – nearly the same amount spent in the much larger New Orleans market and more than twice as much as spent in the Shreveport market. These legal services ads even outpace other types of advertising in Baton Rouge. For example, there were eight times as many ads for legal services than for fast food restaurants in the region. Both the number of ads and the ad spending increased from the third to the fourth quarters.
Northwest Louisiana residents also saw significant investment by the trial bar in the last half of 2018, with $2.6 million spent on 50,000 ads in the Shreveport market – 16 times the number of ads viewers saw for banks. Despite the active election season during this time period, 19 legal services ads aired for every state or local campaign ad.
“The trial bar has become a cottage industry in Louisiana. These ads perpetuate the cycle of recruiting plaintiffs for lawsuits and drive away jobs and investment with real long-term economic consequences,” said Louisiana Coalition for Common Sense Executive Director Jim Harris. “If we want to roll out the welcome mat for business, we must address Louisiana’s reputation as one of the most litigious states in the country,” Harris said.