UPDATE: On June 23, 2023, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1205 into law. What does this mean?
- Ads for legal services are prohibited from using government agencies’ logos to suggest the agency supports the ad, approves of its message, or reviewed its content.
- Advertisers are prohibited from using terms like “health alert” to falsely imply their ads are a public service announcement or something other than an ad for legal services.
- The new law also protects consumers by requiring a legal services advertiser to secure express written consent before selling or sharing private health information, provided in response to an ad, with any third party.
This is a big step in protecting Florida citizens from misleading trial lawyer advertising tactics.
More good news out of the Sunshine State. After enacting one of the most consequential legal reform bills in decades, the Florida legislature voted last month to rein in misleading trial lawyer advertising, including television, radio, billboard, and digital ads. HB 1205 now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign.
Floridians are inundated with ads from plaintiffs’ lawyers looking to recruit clients for lawsuits. According to ILR data, in 2022 alone, trial lawyers spent nearly millions of dollars on ads in the Sunshine State. Often these ads use government logos, graphic imagery, and phrases like “health alert” in misleading ways. Some ads make unfounded claims about products. Others highlight large jury verdicts that were overturned, reduced, or settled to mislead the public about what they can expect to receive if they file a lawsuit. These ads can also scare people into discontinuing prescribed medications, sometimes with severe health consequences.
HB 1205 would protect viewers by banning ads from using misleading phrases like “medical alert” or other similar terms; using government logos to suggest affiliation with a government entity; and displaying terms like “recall” when a product has not been recalled under state or federal regulations in advertisements. The bill would affirmatively require disclaimers that ensure viewers know the advertisement is for legal services and that they should consult their doctor before making any medical decisions. It would also protect consumers’ health information by prohibiting the use or sale of the health information of a person who calls a phone number listed on an ad without their knowledge.
Florida is the latest state to rein in misleading trial lawyer ads, joining Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia, which all enacted similar laws in recent years.
HB 1205 is another example of how Florida lawmakers are keeping the momentum after Gov. DeSantis signed March’s historic legal reform package into law to improve the state’s poor lawsuit climate.
Other states should look to Florida as the model for efforts to create a fair and balanced state legal system.
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