PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) – A group that directs potential clients to mass tort lawyers – and is fighting to keep the information between them secret – will be on hand when those lawyers meet to discuss their strategies.
Top Class Actions is scheduled to take part in a presentation called “Innovative Ways to Find Mass Tort Clients” at this month’s virtual Mass Torts Made Perfect. The company runs a website with news stories about products at the centers of mass torts that also contain contact forms for readers who think they might be able to file a lawsuit.
3M is curious about the relationship and has asked an Arizona federal judge to force TCA to comply with its demands for information regarding ear plug plaintiffs. TCA resisted 3M’s request, leading to the court fight in Arizona.
TCA and the mass tort lawyers leading the multidistrict litigation in Florida, where 200,000 cases are consolidated, want the dispute heard there.
“On the eve of oral argument, and over two months after 3M filed its motion to compel, on August 21, 2020, TCA for the first time raised an issue with venue before this
Court,” the company wrote Sept. 30 in opposition.
“That day, Plaintiffs’ leadership filed a Notice of Tag-Along Action, improperly seeking to tag the TCA Action into the MDL.”
3M is opposing the MDL leadership team’s intervention, as none of the three purchased leads from TCA. Those leads were instead sold to Gori Law Firm of Illinois, McDonald Worley of Houston and Robert Peirce & Associates of Pennsylvania, the company says.
“Plaintiffs’ Leadership Counsel does not have authority to assert attorney-client privilege on behalf of individuals represented by other law firms,” 3M’s lawyers wrote. “Nor can it assert work product protections on behalf of those individuals, or on behalf of TCA’s law firm clients.”
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TCA says its communications with possible plaintiffs are protected by attorney-client privilege, despite the fact that it is not actually a law firm.
TCA’s site contains attorney advertising and articles written by TCA writers. Some pages have contact forms for potential clients whose information is passed on to firms that bought the ads.
The terms say “it is intended that the information will be protected by attorney-client privilege, but it is possible that Top Class Actions or such attorneys may be ordered by a court of law to produce such information in certain legal situations.”
TCA says attorney-client privilege applies to the records sought by 3M – that potential plaintiffs had a strong expectation their communications would be privileged.
3M’s original subpoena sought:
-Documents related to submissions to TCA’s website;
-Documents relating to the advertising directed to prospective plaintiffs;
-Communications between plaintiffs firms and TCA relating to prospective plaintiffs;
-Documents relating to the referral of prospective plaintiffs; and
-Documents regarding any financial interest or ownership any plaintiffs law firm has in TCA.