I can’t say I’m sorry to see this kind of lawsuit. Citing unfair trade practices, several Florida personal injury firms have brought suit against their brethren. The problem? Accusations of using “runners” to get clients, also known as ambulance chasing.
The concept of chasing cases has long been a stain on the profession. I know I am not alone in being upset to see our reputations tarnished by the less reputable. Whenever any member of a community acts inappropriately, it affects the reputations of others. Decent cops and priests know all about this concept when they see wayward others from their insular communities in the news in unflattering ways.
Personally, I think outing chasers is a good idea, something that I have written about before (Ambulance Chasers, Runners and Other Creeps). In that 2009 post I wrote:
The message should be loud and clear: If you employ runners to chase cases at the local hospitals you shouldn’t be practicing law. And it should be equally clear that the vast, vast majority of attorneys look down with utter disdain on such conduct. Without question, most of the lawyers that I run into, on both the plaintiffs and defense side, practice law conscientiously and ethically. The corrupt ones should not expect others to come to their defense.
When lawyers practice unethically it tarnishes the entire profession and makes it more difficult to represent those in need of legal services.
According to the brief article I read, these are the firms that brought the suit (in other words, those pissed off at seeing others chase): Lawlor, Winston, White & Murphy in Fort Lauderdale; Metnick, Levy & Long in Delray Beach; Balkan & Patterson in Boca Raton; and Gary E. Susser in Boynton Beach. Suit was filed in Broward Circuit Court on Jan. 4.
Those firms are alleging that the bad guys are: Bader, Stillman & Adler in Margate; Madalon Law Firm in Hollywood; and Gregory Schwartz P.A. in Hollywood are using runners as middlemen to sign up suits.
I am sure that I am not alone in wondering what the evidence will look like. My gut reaction is that the firms that brought suit will have learned of the alleged chasers from clients that they have, who had been approached by “investigators” for the chasing firms. In other words, someone gets handed a business card in a hospital and is pitched on legal services, and the patient goes elsewhere and lets the lawyers that they actually hire and trust what happened before they walked in the door.
The case should be very interesting to watch.