September 26, 2016

Lawyers Suing Lawyers: Texas mass tort attorney sues other mass tort attorney over robocall recruitment tactic

Who wins when lawyers sue other lawyers?  Why, the lawyers, of course.

That’s just what’s happening in Texas.

John R. MacLean, an attorney in Texas, received an automated phone call from two Arizona law firms seeking to find clients for a class action law suit against the makers of IVC filters. These filters are medical devices implanted into the inferior vena cava vein to reduce the risks of blood clotting. 

The filters are the latest target of trial lawyers, who’ve ramped up the TV ads in an effort to collect clients.

So, how did this end up with lawyers suing other lawyers?

After receiving a telephone solicitation on IVC litigation, MacLean immediately began rounding up plaintiffs for a class action suit against Arentz Law Group and The Johnston Law Group.

“The Defendants initiated a massive robocall campaign indiscriminately contacting Texans all over the state with unsolicited automated telephone calls,” MacLean wrote of Arentz and Johnston.

MacLean is seeking $10,000 for each and every unsolicited phone call made for each member of the class, plus attorney’s fees and injunctive relief.

“As a licensed Texas attorney ‘intimately familiar’ with IVC litigation — he has been appointed to the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in MDL 2570 — MacLean decided to answer the phone,” reports Legal Newsline. “An automated voice asked if he or anyone he knew had been harmed by an IVC filter.”

MacLean says he “immediately knew” it was an illegal solicitation in violation of Texas law, but decided to “play along.”

The case is so interesting because it involves one plaintiffs’ attorney involved in mass litigation against an American medical devices manufacturer suing another plaintiffs’ attorney attempting to recruit clients for the same litigation.

It also has further shone a spotlight on aggressive plaintiff-recruitment tactics by the plaintiffs’ bar that have been highlighted by ILR and come under close scrutiny by the media during the past year.

More than anything, this case is ironic. A growing number in the plaintiffs’ bar have been bringing ever-larger lawsuits under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). That law was enacted in 1991 before the dawn of modern cellular phone technology that was intended to prevent people from receiving unwanted telemarketing calls. 

While the suit against the Arentz Law Group and Johnson Law Group allege violations of Texas law, not the TCPA, it is more than interesting that the plaintiffs’ bar publicly purports to protect consumers from robocalls while, at least in this case, aggressively engaging in the tactic itself.

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