Nowhere to Hide
It’s late at night, you’re dozing off with the TV on, the screen
goes dark and is soon filled with words in white lettering, as an all
too serious narrator begins reading: “If you or a loved one was
diagnosed with mesothelioma, call the number on your screen now…”
Now it’s morning, you’re settling in with a cup of coffee,
your eyes are on the newspaper but you’re listening to CNN when,
once again, the all too familiar voice beckons: “If you or a loved
one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, call the number on your screen now…”
Now you’re up and dressed. Before leaving the house, you flip over
to the Weather Channel for a quick check of the forecast, but before you
can get your “Local Weather on the 8’s”, you’re
forced to once again endure the barely human voice: “If you or a
loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, call the number on your screen
Now you’re in the car, you turn on the radio and punch in the “All
News All the Time” station for a traffic report when, nestled in
between ads for mortgage refinancing and mattress stores, you hear: “If
you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, call 1-800…”
Now the car is parked and you’re on foot, safely protected from all
forms of electronic media. You’re at an intersection waiting for
the “Walk” signal when your view is eclipsed by a large bus
pulling over at a nearby bus-stop. On the back of the bus is a large rectangular
sign with the image of a man with a weathered face and stoic expression,
wearing a hard-hat, next to which you see the text: “If you or a
loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, call 1-800…”
These days there’s no escaping “Madison Avenue” meso
lawyers and their seemingly limitless advertising budgets.
“Scorched Earth” Campaign for Meso Victims
2009 was a banner year for attorney advertising. Marketing statistics show
that attorney advertising ranked #8 in local television advertising spending.
In the down economy, attorney advertising was the only category of local
television advertising which experienced an increase in 2009. The law
firm which spent the most on television advertising in 2009, the name
of which has become synonymous with annoying mesothelioma commercials,
spent a whopping $10.98 million!!
In 2009, it is estimated that there were approximately 3,000 persons diagnosed
with mesothelioma nationwide. It is only when considering the amount of
nationwide advertising dedicated to reaching a limited market of 3,000
people, both in terms amounts spent and resulting air time, that you get
a real sense of the “scorched earth” campaign which “Madison
Avenue” meso lawyers are waging.
So who are these “Madison Avenue” meso lawyers who are saturating
our airwaves, billboards and bus placards with their distasteful attempts
to reach the one out of every 103,000 Americans who will be diagnosed
with mesothelioma this year?
Typically, they are national firms which, curiously enough, don’t
even specialize in the handling of mesothelioma cases. Instead, many of
these firms handle a wide array of cases including pharmaceutical cases,
tobacco cases, securities fraud cases, Chinese drywall cases, mold cases,
medical malpractice cases and various forms of class action cases. Many
of the firms have only recently jumped on the “mesothelioma bandwagon,”
adding these cases to their diverse practices.
Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk
Any law firm with a large marketing budget can hire an advertising firm
to produce a slick (usually not-so-slick) TV commercial and run demographic
studies on the times and channels to run the commercials where they will
have the best chance of reaching their “market.” But does
possessing the so-called savvy to market legal services the same way others
market “male enhancement” products qualify a law firm to represent
a family struggling with mesothelioma?
Families afflicted with mesothelioma are concerned, first and foremost,
with the health of their Mom, Dad, sister or brother who has been diagnosed.
They want to know whether their doctors are experienced in treating mesothelioma
and whether they are offering the latest and most innovative treatments
which hold the best chance for survival.
Mesothelioma is different than most medical conditions a family will have
to deal with. Because of the rarity of the disease and the lack of widely
accepted treatment protocols among even the small number of physicians
who specialize in treating mesothelioma, it is incumbent upon the family
to take a much more active role in directing the medical treatment. This
often involves sifting through volumes of information on surgery vs. chemo;
if surgery, EPP vs. P/D, etc.
In order to effectively represent a family afflicted with mesothelioma,
a law firm must have the knowledge and experience necessary to quickly
educate the family about the full extent of their medical options and
assist them in getting prompt attention from the physicians who have developed
an expertise in the treatments they are interested in (See our article “Should Lawyers Advise Their Clients on Treatment Options” Published in
From a legal standpoint, mesothelioma cases present a number of challenges
which are not present in other types of personal injury cases. Most personal
injury cases involve a single act or occurrence producing an immediately
noticeable injury a matter of days, weeks or, at most, months before an
attorney is contacted. The attorney therefore has the luxury of meeting
the client when the details of the occurrence are still fresh in the client’s
and witness’ minds. This makes it relatively easy to identify the
one or two products or persons who are responsible for the injury.
In mesothelioma cases, you are dealing with a disease which manifests itself
a minimum of fifteen years, and a maximum of 50 to 60 years, following
exposures to asbestos. Each and every exposure to asbestos which occurred
during this 35+ year window is an act or occurrence which contributes
to the injury or disease. In some cases there can be hundreds if not thousands
of exposures contributing to the disease.
In order to effectively handle a mesothelioma case, an attorney needs to
obtain information from the client, as well as any living witnesses who
can be located, regarding the times, places and products involved in all
of the asbestos exposures which can be identified over the 35+ year period.
Meeting this challenge requires attorneys who are well-versed in the literally
thousands of asbestos products which were used in various jobs and applications
from the 1940’s through the 1980’s.
Given the number of exposures and the number of products involved, mesothelioma
cases typically involve at least 20 and as many as 100 defendants. Each
of these defendants is represented by a separate defense law firm whose
attorneys are paid between $200 to $800 an hour to try and prove that
the disease was caused by someone else’s asbestos.
Because of a mesothelioma patient’s limited life expectancy, efforts
must be made to bring the case to trial as soon as the court will allow.
These efforts, not surprisingly, are met with great resistance from defense
attorneys whose billable rates incentivize them to make the case drag
on as long as possible so that the mesothelioma patient never sees his
or her day in court. Again, meeting and overcoming these unique challenges
requires attorneys who are experienced and have a proven track record
in handling mesothelioma cases.
Are “Madison Avenue” meso lawyers up to these challenges?
Can a family struggling with mesothelioma afford to risk that they’re not?
Getting Clients the Old Fashioned Way…
|Roger Worthington, Esq. (r) observing surgery of client Bill Saller
At the Law Office of Roger G. Worthington, we are proud to say that the
vast majority of our new mesothelioma clients are referred to us by current
and former clients as well as physicians who have been involved in their
treatment. We know that these endorsements cannot be bought by a 30 second
TV or radio spot, or by a billboard or bus placard. Each and every one
of these endorsements was earned by a 20 year history of caring support
and proven results for victims of asbestos cancer, who are the only clients
We know that families who have been affected by mesothelioma and the physicians
who have dedicated themselves to treating this hideous disease are a very
close and caring community. We know that you are likely as annoyed and
offended by the constant barrage of mesothelioma ads from “Madison
Avenue” meso lawyers as we are.
Please make sure that the mesothelioma patients you meet don’t fall
victim to the late night sirens’ song: “If you or a loved
one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, call the number on your screen now…”