Plaintiffs firms spent more than $34 million on COVID-19 ads, tort reform group says
By Caroline Spiezio
(Reuters) – Plaintiff-side law firms have funneled millions of dollars into advertisements aimed at attracting clients impacted by COVID-19, with Morgan & Morgan as the top-spender, according to a Tuesday report from the American Tort Reform Association.
The report said 176,053 television ads offering legal services or soliciting legal claims mentioning COVID-19 aired in the United States March through December 2020, costing an estimated $34.4 million “based on publicly-available ad rate information and industry surveys.”
Morgan & Morgan spent the most by far, according to ATRA, airing about 70,000 ads at a cost of $10.5 million from March, when COVID-19 sparked U.S. economic shutdowns, through December.
The plaintiff-side giant’s website advertises services for a slew of pandemic-related matters, including business owners suing insurers for coverage, employees who contracted COVID-19 at work suing their employer for compensation and families of people who died from COVID-19 suing nursing homes for neglect.
Morgan & Morgan founder John Morgan and another representative for the firm did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
Other top spenders identified by ATRA were consumer finance company J.G. Wentworth Co and Chicago-based debt relief agency the Semrad Law Firm. Both spent less than $5 million, according to the report. Representatives for those groups did not respond to requests for comment.
Tiger Joyce, the president of ATRA, whose members include business and medical professionals often at odds with plaintiff-side lawyers, said Tuesday in a statement that the ad-spending numbers show the need for state legislatures to enact liability protections.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States, entrepreneurial personal injury lawyers saw yet another opportunity to profit off of a national crisis,” the report said.
Southern U.S. states were the target for most TV ads for legal services mentioning COVID-19 that ran from March to December. More than half aired in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia or in the Northern state of Ohio, according to ATRA.
Nearly 20% of ads aired in Florida, Morgan & Morgan’s home state.