Steven Recht v. Patrick Morrisey, No. 21-1684 (4th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, two West Virginia attorneys and a client, contended that West Virginia’s statute regulating legal advertisements that solicit clients in litigation involving medications or medical devices violates the First Amendment by prohibiting attorneys from using certain terms or images in their advertisements and by requiring such advertisements to include certain disclosures. The district court agreed, granting summary judgment to the plaintiffs.
The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment and upheld the statute concluding that its prohibitions survive constitutional scrutiny because the prohibitions target misleading speech. Further, West Virginia has substantial interests in protecting public health and in preventing deception, and the statute advances these interests in a narrowly tailored and reasonable way. Thus, the statute’s prohibitions and disclosures work together to protect the health of West Virginia citizens who may be misled into thinking that attorneys are reliable sources of medical advice.