St. Louis Record

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Mass tort litigation proliferates as ad spending by lawyers increases; FTC keeping watch over lead generators

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By Amanda Smith-Teutsch | Dec 18, 2019


The Federal Trade commission is keeping an eye on ads promoting class action lawsuits and others seeking plaintiffs. 

The FTC recently sent letters to lead generators and several law firms, warning that the television ads they were producing could be deceiving. The lawyers were also warned that they must have actual evidence to support the claims they make in their ads, at least when the lawyers are seeking members of a class against prescription drugs. 

Advocates for the reform of mass-torts in the U.S. would like to see that warning extended to other products and industries as well. 

One of those is the Bayer company, maker of Roundup weed killer. 

 A spokesperson for Bayer said ‘lead generators’ cause issues for the legal system. 

“A significant volume of the massive plaintiff advertising is actually sponsored by lead generators, commercial entities that operate in the shadows and lack transparency regarding their interests, sources of money, and how they sell leads on new cases to law firms,” the spokesperson said.

Bayer is the target of many of these ads, and has seen the number of claims against it rise as the number of television ads increase. 

Lead generators pay for the ads, and then pass along information about possible plaintiffs to attorneys. The generators and plaintiffs lawyers are spending millions to go after the company for its Roundup weed killer product; the claims started coming in after a European health agency targeted one of the ingredients in the product as a ‘possible’ carcinogen. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however, has refused to allow the product to be classified as a carcinogen, possible or otherwise. 

Studies show that the number of claims against the company are increasing as ad spending by attorneys who specialize in mass torts rise. 

Bayer,  for its part, is calling for information about the relationship between mass-tort plaintiffs attorneys and lead generators to be subject to greater public disclosure. 

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