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The post below was published on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 at 11:17 PM.

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First District: Commercial Speech

This Florida statute provides that 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 . . . .” Does that prohibition violate public adjusters’ right to free speech?

The answer may depend on whether the language is interpreted to prohibit all public adjuster-initiated contact in a 48-hour period or merely face-to-face or telephonic contact during that period. A trial court adopted the latter interpretation after finding the statute ambiguous. The First District reversed. This decision held that the statute unambiguously prohibits all public-adjuster initiated contact in a 48-hour period and fails the constitutional test for restrictions on commercial speech.

Notably, the court held the statute unconstitutional under Article I, section 4 of the Florida Constitution — Florida’s free speech provision. Throughout the case, though, the court relied on Central Hudson and federal law standards for restricting commercial speech.

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