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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Supreme Court hears arguments in public adjuster case

9

September

The fate of a state law restricting the ability of public adjusters to contact property owners after a disaster is the hands of the Florida Supreme Court after oral arguments Friday.

Michael Davidson, representing the state, told justices the law simply prohibits face-to-face contact or phone calls to potential clients by public adjusters for 48 hours after a catastrophe.

The adjusters, who help insurance policy holders file claims, still can distribute written materials, so their free speech rights remain intact, he said. A total ban on communication, he agreed, would be a constitutional violation.

Justices, though, seemed skeptical, keying on a part of the legislation that says public adjusters cannot "initiate contact" with potential clients for 48 hours.

"The problem you have here is 'initiate contact' seems to be rather broad. I don't understand your argument, that it doesn't encompass these written communications," said Chief Justice Charles Canady. "I'm missing your point."

Justice Barbara Pariente dinged the insurance industry during the discussion. She questioned the motivation for the legislation, noting some of the reasoning seemed to be that people with hurricane claims who used adjusters get 750 percent more on claims than those who didn't.

"It seems to me it's the insurance industry saying we don't want adjusters there because we want to do our thing," she said.

Read the story here.

[Last modified: Friday, September 9, 2011 5:28pm]

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