Robocalls are those annoying, automated calls you receive (from God knows where and for who knows what) without any live, human assistance. If you’re a lawyer considering using a robocall system to hunt for cases (mass tort or otherwise) you might want to double check who is on the call list. There is little doubt such a tactic is going to be viewed as “improper communication” by the State Bar.
According to a recent Reuters news story, if you robocall the wrong person in Texas, you might pay dearly. Here’s what happened. Ft. Worth lawyer Scotty MacLean received a robcall looking for IVC filter cases. The message asked if he or anyone he knew had been injured by an IVC filter. If yes, he was instructed to press a number to be connected directly to a live representative. MacLean followed the instructions and was connected to a live operator who asked if he would like to file a lawsuit which would be handled by attorney Christopher Johnston of the Johnston Law Group. Curious, MacLean said he would have to talk it over with his wife and asked for a callback number. The number given was for the Arentz Law Group, a fairly well-known advertising law firm from Phoenix.
Now, the story could have ended there, with MacLean likely having both firms in hot water for a classic case of improper solicitation. But wait, there’s more. Texas has a state law that allows for persons who have been improperly solicited to file a lawsuit called a “barratry.” This particular statute also allows for those solicited to be entitled to $10,000 for every violation.
Again, the story could have stopped there, but that’s not the most interesting twist. Maclean, a Ft. Worth plaintiff’s lawyer himself, was also on the steering committee in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) against one of the makers of IVC filters. To say he was a little upset with the actions of the Johnston Law Group and the Arentz Law Group would be an understatement. So, what did MacLean do? He filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Texas residents solicited by the two firms. Remember the penalty for solicitation in Texas? $10,000 per violation… ouch.
I’m sure we haven’t heard the end of this story, so stay tuned. For the rest of us who participate in various mass tort programs, the lesson to learn here is be sure you can trust those who are helping you generate your mass tort leads. Don’t hesitate to ask what mechanism is being used to obtain inquiries. If their process lacks transparency or they’re a hesitant to share information, be careful. It may be more dangerous than you think.
If you would like to learn more about this case, check out the full article here.