Southeast Texas Record

Monday, March 30, 2020

Aren't firms like AkinMears engaging in barratry?

Our View

By The SE Texas Record | Nov 2, 2015

According to a new report commissioned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, which owns this journal, trial lawyers will spend almost $900 million this year in broadcast advertising.

Hundreds of millions in ad revenue from a single industry is good news for broadcasters, but is it good for the rest of us, the general public? Is it good for society?

The report shows that broadcast advertising by trial lawyers has increased 68 percent in the past eight years, from $531 million in 2008 to an estimated $892 million this year.

Ads focused on prescription drugs, medical devices, asbestos, and lawsuit funding account for nearly a quarter of that media investment.

Leading the pack of big spenders is the Houston law firm of AkinMears, which is projected to spend more than $25 million this year.

Not far behind are Morgan & Morgan and Pulaski & Middleman of Houston.

AkinMears is the firm currently being sued in Harris County District Court by former employee Amir Shenaq for millions of dollars in allegedly unpaid compensation. He describes the firm as a “mass tort warehouse” and a “glorified claims processing center.”

Shenaq alleges that AkinMears borrows enormous amounts of money to spend on massive television ad campaigns and acquires mass tort suits from other firms, as well, including 14,000 transvaginal mesh cases purchased from Alpha Law for $45 million.

How much different from personal injury lawyers soliciting business from accident victims are plaintiffs attorneys seeking clients for class action suits against the manufacturers of prescription drugs, medical devices, asbestos, etc.?

Are they not both engaging in barratry?

Though it had not been enforced much until recently, barratry is a crime in Texas. As of 2011, it's also a civil offense. Any victim of it can seek damages in court.

Maybe our legislators should broaden, or clarify, the definition of barratry concerning the cloudy activities of firms like AkinMears. Maybe solicited clients should file suits against these predators, as well.

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