Silverman, Cruz-Alvarez Discuss FTC Warning on Plaintiff's Attorney Ads

Shook Partners Cary Silverman and Frank Cruz-Alvarez have written an article for the Washington Legal Foundation's Legal Pulse examining the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC's) warning to mass tort lawyers and lead generators. The agency sent warning letters to several attorneys and companies, Silverman and Cruz-Alvarez explain, "expressing concern that some of their mass tort television advertisements mislead the public," while the agency also warned consumers to not stop taking a medication because of an attorney advertisement. 

"Lawsuit ads targeting prescription drugs and medical devices follow a common troubling formula. Ads are typically introduced as 'medical alerts' to get viewers’ attention and mask their true profit motivation. Some flash the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's)] official logo, which both builds credibility and may lead viewers to think the agency approves or supports the advertisement’s content. Ominous warnings follow, asserting that a medication that the FDA approved as safe and effective, and a physician prescribed after considering the risks to a patient, may lead to awful injuries or death. Ads often hide the identity of the sponsor and other important information in fine print that no one can possibly read. An advertiser that uses these types of tactics to sell any other product or service would be in hot water with the FTC."

"Unless plaintiffs' law firms that specialize in mass tort litigation and lead generators change their advertising practices, more action is likely to come," Silverman and Cruz-Alvarez conclude. "The FTC indicates that it 'will continue to monitor potentially deceptive or unfair lawyer advertising' and 'take follow-up action as warranted.'”