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Beware Of “Madison Avenue” Meso Lawyers


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…”

Mesothelioma Ad

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…”

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 Asbestos Magazine).

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 represent.

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…”