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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist seeks class action lawsuit against insurers



Gov. Charlie Crist has enlisted the help of three high-powered lawyers in an effort that may lead to a class action lawsuit against Florida's insurance industry.

Crist said Tuesday the three will review insurers' responses to subpoenas issued earlier by the state Office of Insurance Regulation for compliance with a new law requiring the companies to pass cost savings on to rate payers.

"(I want them) to review the subpoena responses that are coming back from the insurance companies and to start to develop a theory to pursue legal action against those who may not be adhering to the letter of the law -- possibly including a class action," Crist said.

The three lawyers, who are donating their time for free, are Robert Martinez of Coral Gables, who headed Crist's transition effort a year ago and is a member of the state Board of Education; Dexter Douglass of Tallahassee, a Democrat who was Gov. Lawton Chiles' general counsel;  and Robert Hackleman, a member of the firm that employed George LeMieux, Crist's chief of staff, at Gunster, Yoakley and Stewart.

"He's a great trial lawyer, and I've  gotten to know him through George," Crist said of Hackelman. "So I have great respect for his judgment."

Crist said he chose Douglass in part because of his experience with Chiles' legal onslaught against the tobacco industry in the mid-1990s.

-- Steve Bousquet

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2:11pm]


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