The legal feud between personal injury lawyers Jeff Rosenbaum and John Morgan has all the drama of a soap opera—in fact, the two even appear on daytime TV, albeit in their commercials.
In this latest episode, a federal judge has denied Morgan’s motion to dismiss the false advertising case against his firm in light of the filing of a refined complaint.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied as moot Morgan’s request to dismiss the case, shortly after Philadelphia-based Rosenbaum filed an amended complaint.
Rosenbaum sued Orlando-based Morgan & Morgan and its principals for allegedly misrepresenting themselves as having a practice in Pennsylvania and that claiming it was not a referral service. Rosenbaum has also alleged that Morgan & Morgan’s ads caused his firm to lose business.
In court papers filed last month, lawyers representing Morgan & Morgan argued that Rosenbaum’s claims were ”grossly deficient.”
“Instead of exercising due diligence prior to filing this complaint, plaintiffs have slung the proverbial mud against the wall, hoping desperately that some of it will stick,” Morgan & Morgan’s motion to dismiss said. “Respectfully, none of it should.”
According to the motion, Rosenbaum’s complaint failed to identify the false advertisements or provide copies, transcripts or screenshots, and did not describe the ads in detail. They only used “alleged excerpts” from the commercials, the motion said.
“Plaintiffs’ selective use of threadbare phrases, without citing to a specific advertisement and any accompanying disclaimer, is insufficient,” Morgan’s motion said.
“Plaintiffs would have this court believe that there are only two law firms advertising for personal injury clients in this metropolitan area—Morgan & Morgan and Rosenbaum & Associates—and that any client who elects one firm does so necessarily at the expense of the other,” the motion continued. “Nothing could be further from the truth, given the plethora of attorneys and law firms advertising for personal injury clients in the Philadelphia media market.”
Additionally, the motion argued, the conduct described in Rosenbaum’s complaint—related to how Morgan & Morgan operates and advertises in Pennsylvania—is regulated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board, and does not make for a private cause of action.
Rosenbaum shot back in his Dec. 1 reply to Morgan’s dismissal bid, attempting to turn that argument against Morgan.
“Defendants argue that plaintiffs are not likely to succeed since the allegations involve violations of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, which do not provide for a private cause of action. Nothing in the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct obviates the availability of a private cause of action pursuant to common law principles. While defendants certainly violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, this does not insulate defendants from liability for false advertising,” court papers said.
Ryan Cohen of Rosenbaum & Associates, who represents his firm in the case, did not return a call seeking comment. Gaetan Alfano of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti represents Morgan and declined to comment.
Since filing the complaint, Jeff Rosenbaum has created his own commercial slamming Morgan & Morgan, and has asked the court to enjoin Morgan & Morgan from running its ads on television while the case is ongoing.