First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
Colo. justices: Lawyers can be sued for false advertising

By The Associated Press
01.11.06

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court has cleared the way for an accident victim to sue a personal-injury lawyer who advertised his firm as "the strong arm," ruling that attorneys are covered by laws barring false or deceptive ad claims.

In a unanimous Jan. 9 ruling in Crowe v. Tull, the court overturned a trial judge and ruled that the Colorado Consumer Protection Act applies to lawyers. The law allows successful plaintiffs to win triple damages and attorney fees.

Colorado Springs construction worker Richard E. Crowe filed the suit against Denver-based Frank Azar & Associates, saying the firm pressured him into settling his traffic-accident claim for $4,000, even though Crowe estimated his medical bills and lost wages totaled $24,000.

The law firm advertises heavily on television, touting its ability to win settlements from insurance companies and other defendants.

Azar described Crowe's lawsuit as "frivolous" and said the Colorado Supreme Court ruling did not address the merits of the case.

"You can sue anybody for anything," he said.

The ruling, written by Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, sent the case back to the trial judge, who must consider whether Azar's firm engaged in deceptive practices.

Mullarkey wrote that the Consumer Protection Act, first enacted in 1969, does not specifically mention lawyers but that the Legislature has had plenty of opportunity to exclude them.

Some attorneys praised the ruling, saying it ensures that lawyers and law firms are treated like other businesses.

"This really, really notches up the liability," said Denver attorney Eric Fisher.

Beth Krulewitch, who submitted a legal brief in the case on behalf of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, said the group argued for Crowe's right to sue but did not try to determine whether his claims were true.

"Our position was if there is a case where somebody allegedly advertised in a misleading or deceptive way, attorneys shouldn't be carved out as an exception to that body of law," she said.


Related

Florida judge won't muzzle law firm's 'pit bull' ads

State Bar had argued 1-800-PITBULL commercials violate laws regulating legal advertising, but court says company's ads are constitutionally protected speech. 10.08.04

Ohio lawyers may use client testimonials
State high court orders legal disciplinary boards to halt enforcement of prohibition in attorneys' code of conduct. 01.30.05

Attorney ads

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print


Last system update: Thursday, August 21, 2008 | 17:52:50
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

First Reports
Supreme Court
Experts
Columnists
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links