The Mass Tort Advertising Machine

November 26, 2019

Plaintiffs’ lawyers have spent tens of millions of dollars on ads recruiting plaintiffs against Roundup, Bayer-Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed-killer, and that spending is paying off.

An investigative report from the Wall Street Journal shows that rapid increases in the number of plaintiffs in Roundup litigation track closely with increases in lawsuit advertising targeting the weed-killer. In fact, Roundup was the subject of over 650,000 broadcast and cable-TV ads in the first nine months of this year, making it by far the most-targeted product for lawsuit ads in 2019.

Lawsuit advertisers contacted by the Journal revealed that this form of advertising treats plaintiffs like any other commodity. The more that firms believe a settlement could yield, the higher the premium they are willing to pay to recruit viable plaintiffs—up to $6,000 per plaintiff at one point in September when it was rumored a settlement was near.

And of course, all of this advertising and recruiting is done in order to inflate the value of any such settlement and increase pressure on the defendant. In the words of lawsuit advertiser Edward Lott when speaking of his law firm clients, “What they hope for is that the Monsantos of the world come in and say, here’s $10 billion, spread it how you like…that’s what they’re looking for.”