Granting CCL's motion for summary judgment, a federal district court declared the challenged portions of a one-year-old West Virginia advertising law unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment and ordered it permanently enjoined. 

      The statute, called the Prevention of Deceptive Lawsuit Advertising and Solicitations Practices Regarding the Use of Medications Act, was enacted last year supposedly to prevent consumers from hearing potential liability resulting from injuries related to drugs and medical devices. Attorneys advertising for clients in drug and medical device litigation, the legislation contended, could cause some consumers to stop taking prescription medication without consulting their doctors. To prevent that possible consequence, the legislation banned the use of the word "recall" to describe voluntary recalls of the products by manufacturers, the use of "consumer alert" in the lawyers' advertising, and the use of a government logo that might suggest affiliation with official agencies. In addition, it imposed a wide range of disclaimers that could take up to 23 seconds from a 30-second advertisement. One disclaimer required the lawyer to tell consumers that they should not stop taking medication without consulting a doctor.

     CCL, working with the Segal Law Firm, challenged the law and obtained a preliminary injunction last June, so the law never went into effect. The new order makes that injunction permanent and declares the law unconstitutional, finding that it, without justification, bars truthful, nonmisleading advertising, compels a lawyer to provide medical advice unrelated to the legal services being offered, and imposes burdensome disclaimers.

     CCL President Robert S. Peck was lead counsel in the case. There is no word yet on whether the State of West Virginia plans to appeal the ruling.