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Morgan & Morgan sued on false advertising claim

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A Philadelphia law firm has sued the Orlando-based Morgan & Morgan law firm in federal court, saying its well-known ads are “misleading” potential clients.

Those ads, well known from billboards and sides of buses in the Sunshine State, wrongly give the impression that the firm “actively litigate(s) claims in Pennsylvania” when its personal-injury practice there is actually “non-existent or minimal,” the suit said.

Morgan & Morgan began in Florida and now has offices in 10 other states, including Pennsylvania, according to its website.

The complaint was filed last Friday in federal court in Philadelphia by the competing Rosenbaum & Associates personal injury firm, and its co-owners, brothers Jeff and David Rosenbaum. It also names firm founder John Morgan as an individual defendant, along with wife Ultima and children Mike, Daniel and Matt, all of whom practice in the firm and have been featured in ads.

The complaint also names Scott Weinstein, Morgan & Morgan’s “global managing partner.”

The Rosenbaums say Morgan’s ad campaign is hurting their business and violates federal law governing false advertising and unfair competition. They seek a court order forbidding Morgan & Morgan from further advertising in the Philadelphia region and payment of the revenue they lost, among other things, including punitive damages.

Their complaint says Morgan & Morgan began advertising in the greater Philadelphia media market some time last year. But the firm has only one lawyer registered to practice in Pennsylvania, Jake Sternberger, according to the complaint. He was admitted to the bar last October, Pennsylvania attorney records show.

Among the suit’s claims are that many of Morgan & Morgan’s television and other ads in the Philadelphia area are “false,” “misleading,” and “deceptive.”

That includes the perception that John Morgan, also an entrepreneur and a possible Democratic contender for Florida governor next year, himself “will handle (potential clients’) claims” or otherwise be “personally involved,” the suit says. Morgan is not licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania.

In fact, the suit adds, Morgan & Morgan refers “all or substantially all the cases generated from its advertising” to other Pennsylvania attorneys.

Some of the ads say, “We’re all here for you,” or, “Or family is here for your family,” the complaint says: “These statements are false and misleading.” That also violates Pennsylvania’s rules of lawyer conduct, the suit adds.

A complaint in a lawsuit tells one side of a story. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday afternoon with Morgan, who spoke Wednesday at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting in St. Petersburg. Another message was left for the Rosenbaums at their Philadelphia office.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at [email protected]

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