NPR Highlights Trial Lawyer "Referral Mills," Advertising Bonanza

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July 03, 2019

A recent spree of lawsuit advertising to recruit plaintiffs for Roundup weed-killer litigation is just the latest example of the trial lawyer “money machine” in action, according to reporting from National Public Radio’s Marketplace Morning Report.

The segment, “Lights. Camera. Class Action!,” which aired on June 13, documents a profitable partnership between advertisers and lawyers. Many of the biggest product liability class actions are fueled by “referral mills.” These are companies that pay for lawsuit ads and call centers to gather plaintiffs, then file the resulting complaints, bundle those cases, and pass them off to a separate team of lawyers that actually does the litigating.

This has been a lucrative business model for going after high-dollar lawsuit targets like pelvic mesh, asbestos, blood filters, and hip replacements, and now the trial bar has added Roundup to the mix.

The negative impact of trial lawyer advertising has been thoroughly documented by ILR research and recent Food and Drug Administration reporting. Hundreds of people have discontinued or reduced their prescription medications after viewing lawsuit ads targeting those medications, often with serious—sometimes fatal—medical consequences.

Tennessee and Texas both took action this year to curb misleading lawsuit ads and protect their consumers. ILR applauds this urgently needed initiative and encourages other states to follow their example.

But action in the states is just one piece of the puzzle. ILR also urges the Federal Trade Commission to prioritize this issue at the federal level, and add to the growing momentum to prevent false and misleading lawsuit ads throughout the country.