ADA, Okla., July 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Like the plume of oil spreading from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon incident, confusion and uncertainty are swirling around the Gulf Coast region, particularly the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. With thousands of coastal residents searching for answers to legal questions about their rights and potential claims against BP, Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (NYSE: PPD) members (customers) have some comfort in knowing they are only a phone call away from legal counsel from their local market PPD provider law firm.
Pre-Paid Legal Services has provider law firms in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and two firms in the state of Florida. Among these five law firms, the average tenure as a PPD provider firm is more than 13 years.
Harland C. Stonecipher, PPD's Chairman of the Board, believes these long-term relationships with provider law firms are particularly important during this crisis.
"The Gulf oil spill has created a toxic environment, not only within the waters of Gulf of Mexico, but also in the communities where citizens are searching for practical answers from trusted legal counsel," Stonecipher said. "PPD members can turn to our provider attorneys knowing the services offered under the Pre-Paid Legal plan will be personal, practical and proven. The value of this service during a time of crisis can't be over stated," he said.
With an estimated 137,000 members in the four-state region, the requests for legal services from PPD members are still limited; however, PPD provider firm attorneys anticipate a high volume of contacts over the coming weeks and months.
Addressing Confusion and Uncertainty
"As people realize the potential long-term effect of this disaster, there will be a ground swell of claims by those affected," said Ron Glantz, founding partner in Plantation, Florida-based Glantz & Glantz, P.A. (www.glantzlaw.com) and the PPD provider law firm in South Florida.
"Many are still shell-shocked by what has occurred and what continues day by day," Glantz said. "In working with our Pre-Paid Legal members, our intention is to provide a realistic appraisal of their situation and, where appropriate, advocate on their behalf."
Charles L. Anderson, founding member of The Anderson Law Firm, L.L.C. (www.theandersonlawfirm.com), and the PPD provider law firm in Montgomery, Alabama, is counseling PPD members to consider the potential long-term effects of the Gulf oil spill.
"The damage caused by this environmental disaster could go on for years and have a rippling effect from industry to industry," Anderson said. "There are still more questions than answers and I expect it will be that way for sometime."
In Mississippi, Pre-Paid Legal Services members are represented by Nixon, Ray & Framme, PLLC (www.nixonlaw.net). Partner Jacob Ray recalls visiting a company worksite at the request of one of his PPD members.
"The company was on the verge of closing down as a result of the oil spill, yet the workers didn't consider themselves victims of the disaster," Ray said. "This is a critical time for those affected by the disaster to understand their rights and to know when those rights have been violated," Ray said.
In North Florida, PPD members are represented by Orlando-Florida based deBeaubien, Knight, Simmons, Mantzaris & Neal, LLP (www.dbksmn.com). Partner Dan Mantzaris says that while the "litigation lottery" is well under way in Florida, his firm is focusing on providing PPD members with legal counsel for their immediate needs.
"We have helped our PPD members and other clients with everything from understanding the claims process to collecting the necessary information and submitting the claim," Mantzaris said. "For those individuals who have a claim, we can help them understand their options and guide them through the maze of the claims process," he said.
In Louisiana, the legal issues related to the spill are somewhat different from those of other Gulf Coast states, since there is a smaller coastal tourism industry. In Louisiana, concerns about the halt in oil drilling are the most likely concerns among PPD members.
Pre-Paid Legal Services is one of the pioneers in the legal service plan industry. The company has offered legal service plans since 1972. PPD offers legal service plans to individuals, small businesses and employee groups through a network of approximately 40 independent law firms throughout the U.S. and four provinces of Canada.
PPD utilizes a "closed panel" delivery model to provide legal services to its 1.5 million members. Unlike the "open panel," approach which is essentially a list of providers, the closed panel is based on the selective use of specific law firms within geographic regions, which helps ensure that PPD members receive dedicated local market legal services through law firms that are monitored for quality assurance with real- time analytics developed by PPD.
"We believe this closed panel approach is the best way to deliver legal services and it is especially valuable in a situation like the one facing the people of the Gulf Coast during this environmental crisis," Stonecipher said. "In situations like this, trust and proven performance are essential."
About PPD -- We believe our products are one of a kind, life events legal service plans. Our plans provide legal service benefits including unlimited attorney consultation as well as will preparation, traffic violation defense, automobile-related criminal charges defense, letter writing, document preparation and review and a general trial defense benefit. We have an identity theft restoration product we think is also one of a kind because of the combination of outside vendors and our provider law firms. More information about us and our products can be found at our homepage at http://www.prepaidlegal.com.
Forward-Looking Statements -- Statements in this press release, other than purely historical information, regarding our future plans and objectives and expected operating results, dividends and share repurchases and statements of the assumptions underlying such statements, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The forward-looking statements contained herein are based on certain assumptions that may not be correct. They are subject to risks and uncertainties incident to our business that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties are described in the reports and statements filed by us with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including (among others) those listed in our Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K, and include the risks that our membership persistency or renewal rates may decline, that we may not be able to continue to grow our memberships and earnings, that we are dependent on the continued active participation of our principal executive officer, that pending or future litigation may have a material adverse effect on us if resolved unfavorably to us, that we may have compromises of our information security, that consumer purchases of discretionary items may be impacted by a downturn in the economy, that we could be adversely affected by regulatory developments, that competition could adversely affect us, that we are substantially dependent on our marketing force, that our stock price may be affected by short sellers, that we have been unable to increase our employee group membership sales, that our active premium in force is not indicative of future revenue as a result of changes in active memberships from cancellations and additional membership sales and that we have repurchased more than half of our outstanding shares. Please refer to pages 16 through 19 of our 2009 Form 10-K for a more complete description of these risks. We undertake no duty to update any of the forward looking statements in this release.
SOURCE Pre-Paid Legal Services