There’s a good reason we’ve come to call Louisiana the “Lawsuit Paradise.” Lawsuits are rampant in the Pelican State, fueled by intensive trial lawyer advertising campaigns described by one plaintiffs’ lawyer as “part of the culture.” And these ads aren’t just focused on fender benders – ILR research has shown that lawsuit ads are often deployed systematically at key moments in mass tort litigation to gin up claims and inflate profits for plaintiffs’ lawyers. But not all Louisianans accept this, and earlier this week lawmakers moved to crack down on deceptive lawsuit ads clogging the state’s airwaves.
Following a bipartisan, 70-30 vote in the Louisiana House, Senate Bill 43 is now headed to the governor’s desk. If signed into law, the bill would ban lawsuit ads that claim to be a medical alert, health alert or use similar phrases that suggest the ads are offering medical advice. It would also prohibit the use of government agency logos to suggest that they support or endorse the content of an ad. Any ads for lawsuits over FDA-approved prescription drugs or medical devices would need to clearly state “this is a paid advertisement for legal services” at the beginning, identify the sponsor of the ad, and disclose who would actually represent potential clients.
The bill also addresses one of the most damaging impacts of deceptive trial lawyer ads: how they discourage people from seeking treatment and scare them into stopping life-saving medications. SB 43 would protect vulnerable viewers, readers, and listeners by mandating these ads clearly recommend talking to a doctor first before making a medical decision, like discontinuing a prescribed medication. Any violation of the bill’s requirements would be punishable under Louisiana’s existing Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
These changes are commonsense, necessary steps to protect Louisiana consumers from the collateral damage created by the lawsuit industry, and state lawmakers should be applauded for passing SB 43. We urge Gov. John Bel Edwards to sign this measure into law and protect Louisianans from predatory lawsuit advertising.