Georgia Trial Lawyers Condemn the Solicitation of Victims of the Savannah Sugar Refinery Blast

I am proud to be a Past President of Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. It is made up of true trial lawyers who love representing the underdog against enormous odds. Our members are some of the finest lawyers in the State of Georgia and professionalism in all aspects of the practice of law is our hallmark.

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution has reported that following the Savannah Sugar Refinery blast last week, a lawyer from Texas took out a full page advertisement in the Savannah paper soliciting victims of the blast. There have also been reports that lawyers from a silk stocking law firm here in Atlanta, with an office in Augusta, has been soliciting victims who are currently being treated in the burn clinic in Augusta. This silk stocking (meaning big and expensive) firm typically defends very big corporations rather than representing individuals who have been harmed by the negligence of big corporations.

To be absolutely clear, the leadership of Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA) condemns such solicitation. These victims and their families need to be focusing on healing, not on such high pressure tactics as direct solicitation of victims immediately after the tragedy. Below is a statement from the President of Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Joe Watkins, on behalf of Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, condemning the practice and rightfully putting focus on the needs of the victims and their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.

Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
Protecting the Constitution’s Promise
For Justice for All
Media Release:

For Immediate Release For More Information Please Call:
February 14th, 2008 Rebecca Bukant (404) 376-3495
Georgia Trial Lawyers Condemn the
Practice of ‘Trolling for Victims’
Atlanta-The tragedy resulting from the Imperial Sugar Refinery has been made worse by the solicitation by unprincipled lawyers vying for the victims’ cases. The news has reported that TV ads, print advertisements and even visits to the Augusta Burn Center by lawyers have occurred. Members and leadership of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association are outraged by this reprehensible behavior.

“The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association unequivocally condemns these unconscionable acts by attorneys,” said the President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Joe Watkins. “We are shocked that attorneys from Georgia and other states are attempting to solicit the families while they are mourning the loss of loved ones and praying at bedsides at the Augusta Burn Facility.”

The State Bar of Georgia Rules prohibit attorneys from contacting victims immediately following a tragedy. “This is not the time for lawyers from Georgia or any other state to harass families and victims of a tragedy. To say that is in ‘poor taste’ is putting it mildly,” said Watkins. “The families and survivors will decide if and when they will seek legal advice.”

The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, and its leadership, strongly believes that the Rules governing Georgia’s State Bar regarding such solicitation should be strengthened and the Association urges the State Bar to take appropriate action regarding this matter.
“Unfortunately, it is the unscrupulous behavior of a few attorneys, often from out of state, that reflects poorly on the image of all attorneys. That conduct is in no way a reflection of the principles, ethics and the integrity of the members of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association,” said Watkins. “I speak for not only myself, but for our entire Association when I say that my thoughts and prayers are with the workers of the Imperial Sugar Refinery and their loved ones.”

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