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WARNING by fdh56iuoui


									                                                                                                       Summer 2008

CALA warns that many questionable sites sponsored by personal injury
lawyers looking for class-action clients; Texas AG issues consumer alert
    Health-related Web sites sponsored by personal            65% of search results on two FDA-approved
injury lawyers may appear to be credible online               prescription drugs – Crestor and Avandia – were
resources but are often designed to “sell, deceive or         for sites containing biased or unverified negative
frighten” health care consumers, according to a new           information. Nearly half of the first three pages of
national study by the Center for Medicine in the Public       search results belonged to class action law firms or
Interest (                                      legal marketing sites searching for plaintiff referrals.
    The CMPI study found that many “medical                     Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott recently
information” Web sites have not been created by             issued a consumer alert urging Texans to check the
reputable health care sources, but by personal injury       source of online health information. In its alert, the
lawyers trolling for clients.                               AG’s office noted that what often appears to be a
    “As more and more patients rely on the Internet         medically-oriented Web site may be an advertising
for health information, it’s important to distinguish       tool for a third party with a vested financial interest in
between bona fide health resources and cleverly-             promoting its particular view.
masked personal                                                                            CALA leaders from

injury lawyer Web                                                                       around the state joined
sites, said Dr. Evelyn                                                                  Merrill and Jenkins for a
Tobias Merrill, a                                                                       Capitol news conference
board-certified family                                                                   on the issue including Bill
physician, board                                                                        Summers, president, Rio
member of Texans                                                                        Grande Valley CALA; Connie
Against Lawsuit Abuse and the spokesperson for              Scott, representing Bay Area CALA; and Diane Davis,
the national Sick of Lawsuits campaign. “Misleading         executive director, East Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse.
or inaccurate information sponsored by some                     The Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP)
personal injury lawyers poses a serious health              issued a statement in conjunction with the news
threat, especially if bad information shapes patients’      conference, warning patients to “use a discerning
health care decisions. ”                                    eye when seeking medical advice or other health
    Bobby Jenkins, chairman of the Citizens Against                                      ”
                                                            information on the Internet. The Texas Medical
Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas (CALA), said Texas           Association and TAFP both offered consumers tips on
CALAs are concerned by this aggressive trolling for         how to find trustworthy medical information Web sites.
clients that has now spread to the Internet.                    According to the CMPI study, roughly 8 million
    “These aggressive tactics are very powerful,  ”         Americans search for health information online every
Jenkins said. “Consumers need to be very aware of           day. (Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project).
the health information they find on the Internet and         Seventy percent of Americans in the Pew study said
we urge them to talk to their doctor if they are thinking   they had access to the Internet, and 80 percent of
of changing their course of treatment based on              those said they’ve turned to the Internet for health
something they have seen or heard.   ”                      information at some point. Unfortunately, three
Specifically, the CMPI study found:                          quarters of these individuals rarely, if ever, check the
   Patient’s seeking expert advice about their ailments     sources of the material they find.
   or medications are instead directed to Web sites             Merrill noted that the CMPI study shows more
   designed to create and exploit medical anxiety.          and more patients are basing medical decisions on
  These Web sites dominate the results from searches        information found online. The CMPI results
  for health information.
track other studies, including a July 2007 study from            making money than in helping patients.
Prospectiv, an online advertising firm, in which more             According to a 2005 survey by the national
than seven in 10 respondents said they viewed the                Sick of Lawsuits campaign:
Internet as “their most trusted and reliable resource              Eight of 10 Americans surveyed believe that personal
for researching ailment and drug information.  ”                   injury lawyers who file lawsuits over medicines and
Additionally, 35 percent of consumers participating                other healthcare remedies are more interested in
in a recent Pew survey said the information they                   making money than in helping patients.
found online affected a decision about whether to                  79 percent of those surveyed are concerned that
see a doctor.                                                      frivolous lawsuits have made it harder for them and
   “These statistics are especially disturbing when                their family to get affordable health care.
you know, as the recent CMPI shows, that much of the                 “These aggressive and ever-present personal injury
medical ‘information’ on the Web is designed to ‘sell,           lawyer advertisements and Web sites hurt our health
deceive or frighten’ rather than inform, said Merrill.           and our health care system when they encourage
   From the CMPI study, it is obvious that one new               people to make medical decisions without talking
technique for gathering parties for class action                 to their doctor or when they encourage people who
lawsuits is to create Web sites which patients will find                                       ”
                                                                 haven’t been injured to sue, Merrill concluded.
when searching for medical advice, Merrill added.                    Merrill urged Texas consumers to protect
   “Clearly, these Web sites cannot be relied upon               themselves with a few simple guidelines:
for balanced and accurate information, Merrill said.               Know the source of the information on the Web site
“Basing medical decisions on propaganda and fear                   and its purpose.
pushed by personal injury lawyers could have a                     When you need medical information, ask your
devastating result on a patient’s health. Doctors, not             doctor, not a lawyer
lawyers, are the best source for health information. ”             Don’t believe everything you read. In his forward
   Merrill noted that while Americans say their                    to the CMPI study, CMPI President Peter Pitts quotes
health care decisions can be influenced by lawyer                   Mark Twain, “Beware of health books. You might
advertising, most also recognize that many of the                                    ”
                                                                   die of a misprint. And the same can be said of the
lawyers involved in this process are more interested in            World Wide Web.

            Texas State Radio Network                           News 8 Austin
            March 25, 2008                                      March 25, 2008
            Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse board member           “Legal watchdog groups said some personal
            says not all medical Web sites are created equal.   injury lawyers sponsor Web sites that have
                                                                medical information, but they're actually trying
            KXAN-TV (NBC) Channel 36                            to ‘sell, deceive, or frighten’ consumers. [Texas
                                                                Attorney General Greg] Abbott warned that
            March 25, 2008                                      these ads have serious medical implications. ”
            “… 65 percent of the search results done for
            drugs like Avandia and Crestor are posted by        Southeast Texas Record
            law firms and legal marketing firms, hoping that
            eventually you'll become a client and that has      March 25, 2008
            some concerned, especially the Texas attorney       Legal watchdog warns against health Web sites
            general, Greg Abbott. He alerted consumers          sponsored by personal injury lawyers.
            about checking their sources of online health       “The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest
            information and members of Citizens Against         study found that many ‘medical information’
            Lawsuit Abuse are concerned as well.                Web sites have not been created by reputable
                                                                health care sources, but by personal injury
                                                                lawyers trolling for clients.
    The news is in: Texans have benefited from              On the heels of the Forbes piece, the U.S.
reforms to our tort system that injected a high level   Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) again
of common sense and fairness into our courts. The       ranked Texas as one of the 10 worst legal climates in
changes have helped put more money into our             the country.
economy and create more full-time jobs.                    It’s clear that we remain at the mercy of a handful
    A new report by economist Ray Perryman shows        of rogue jurisdictions where uneven justice and
lawsuit reforms enacted in the state beginning in       unfair legal practices are commonplace. According
1995 have resulted in $112.5 billion in annual              to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Rio
spending in Texas. What’s more, reforms                              Grande Valley and the Gulf Coast are still
have resulted in 499,000 new,                                            regarded as unfair legal environments
permanent jobs and a $2.6 billion                                           due to the higher number of
increase in state tax revenue.                                                 lawsuits, large awards and unfair
    Yet, while we’ve clearly                                                     day-to-day practices in terms of
benefited from needed                                                              class certification, discovery,
changes to our civil justice                                                       evidentiary rulings and
system, some areas of                                                               jury instructions.
Texas remain a bastion                                                                   Both the ILR report
of legal abuse with                                                                  and Forbes article echo
verdicts and rulings that                                                             the most recent annual
defy both logic and law                                                               report from the American
and continue to give                                                                  Tort Reform Association
the impression that you                                                              (ATRA), which dubbed
can’t get a fair trial in                                                            South Texas a “judicial
Texas. More recently, the                                                           hellhole” for the sixth year
Valley’s reputation has gone                                                       in a row.
national.                                                                            By now, many of us have
    Forbes Magazine listed                                                       heard the well-used quote
the Texas Gulf Coast and Rio                                                   from personal injury lawyer
Grande Valley as one of the “worst                                          Dickie Scruggs, who summed
places to get sued” in the entire                                        up the personal injury lawyer view
country. The region beat out a lot of                                of “magic jurisdictions” (such as the
jurisdictions to earn this distinction.                                                 “
                                                            Valley) as a place where , Cases are not won in
    Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan      the courtroom. They’re won on the back roads long
Institute was quoted by Forbes Magazine, “If you        before the case goes to trial. Any lawyer fresh out of
put pins on a map for the top 50 most outrageous        law school can walk in there and win the case, so it
verdicts, bizarre run-away juries and so forth, you     doesn’t matter what the evidence or law is.    ”
would find this belt around the Gulf Coast that             What a shame.
runs from southern Texas across Mississippi,               Our judicial hellhole reputation in the Rio Grande
Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. These are also          Valley – and the personal injury lawyers who exploit
some of the places people consider the worst            the system – make a mockery, not only of our justice
places to get sued.  ”                                  system, but of our communities.
    This is not the fun and frivolous top ten list of      Now we’ve been called out by a well-respected,
David Letterman. This is a list that will make people   national publication for a hellish court system that
stop and think about doing business in the Valley       continually serves up uneven justice to line the
and in the state as a whole.                            pockets of personal injury lawyers.
    These distinctions can cost the state new              Yet, as the hits keep coming, we take every
business and new jobs. In a recent survey of            opportunity to shine the spotlight on the abuses
company lawyers across the country, six in 10 said      in our system and to urge local voters to hold our
the litigation climate in a state is likely to impact   courts accountable. Together, we can put an end to
their business decisions, such as where to locate       the greed-fueled notoriety that plagues us here and
or do business.                                         continues to sully the proud landscape of Texas.
  Judges have great power over our laws and              These elections will determine who will be on
our lives. They make decisions that affect our        the front lines of many critically important decisions
community safety, environment, health care, jobs      for our state and our community.
and schools.                                             Judicial elections give voters an important
    We have the power to decide who sits on the       voice in who is protecting their interests in the
bench. On November 4, 2008, Texans will vote in       legal system. As citizens, it is our responsibility to
critically important elections that will determine    become informed and vote for judges we can trust.
who presides over our courts for the next six years     You can help by letting your friends, members or
or longer.                                            supporters know that Good Judges Matter!

Visit for more information about this important issue.

   Bay Area CALA at (361) 883-1865
   or visit
   CALA of Central Texas at (512) 481-1000
   or visit
   East Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (ETALA)
   at (800) 44ETALA or (903) 234-8300
   Houston CALA at (713) 267-2302
   or visit
   Rio Grande Valley CALA at (956) 968-3141
   or visit
   or visit us at

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