Articles Posted in Communications Law

Based on unethical actions during the 2004-2005 hurricane season, the Legislature enacted Section 626.854(6), Florida Statutes: A public adjuster may not directly or indirectly through any other person or entity initiate contact or engage in face-to-face or telephonic solicitation or enter into a contract with any insured or claimant under an insurance policy until at least 48 hours after the occurrence of an event that may be the subject of a claim under the insurance policy unless contact is initiated by the insured or claimant. An adjuster sued. The trial court upheld the law, accepting an interpretation that it prohibited only in-person or telephonic communication, that it primarily regulates conduct, not speech, and furthers an important governmental interest. The appeals court reversed, finding that the section regulates commercial speech and that the Department failed to demonstrate that prohibiting property owners from receiving information from public adjusters for 48 hours is justified by the possibility that some public adjuster may unduly pressure traumatized victims or otherwise engage in unethical behavior. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statute unconstitutionally restricts commercial speech and was not narrowly tailored to serve interests in ensuring ethical conduct by public adjusters and protecting homeowners. View "Atwater v. Kortum" on Justia Law