An insurance lawsuit is aimed at restricting Florida’s coverage

A group of contractors and a roofing company have sparked a battle between federal courts over state restrictions on roofing workers to try to curb problems in the property insurance system.

The Florida Reconstruction Association and Apex Roofing Reconstruction LLC have filed a revised lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of restrictions approved by lawmakers in 2021 and during a special legislative session last month.

The case alleges, in part, that the restrictions infringe the rights of the First Amendment, as they deal with issues such as advertising and the ability to advise homeowners on insurance coverage. During a special session last month, for example, lawmakers required roofers to waive responsibility for advertising, a requirement that the lawsuit described as “excessively burdensome.”

“[The] disclaimers also constitute discrimination against prohibited content under the First Amendment, as it imposes only a small set of commercial roofers – forced speech, which, if otherwise valid, is equally applicable to a wide range of commercial participants, including doctors, car repair shops and other real estate repair and refurbishment companies, regarding payments of insurance deductions and fraudulent insurance claims, ”the lawsuit states.

In 2021, legislators adopted a measure (SB 76) that imposed a series of restrictions on roofers, including seeking to prevent roofers from inviting homeowners to file insurance claims through “prohibited advertising”. The law defines prohibited advertising as “any written or electronic communication by a contractor that encourages, instructs or encourages the consumer to contact a contractor or public regulator in order to make an insurance claim for damage to the roof. The term includes, but is not limited to, door hangers, business cards, magnets, flyers, brochures and emails. ”

In a separate lawsuit filed last year by Gale Force Roofing Restoration LLC, U.S. Chief Justice Mark Walker issued a preliminary injunction against the First Amendment Amendment restriction. This prompted lawmakers to revise the advertising restriction during a special session last month.

They adopted a measure (SB 2-D) that required advertisements to include a disclaimer on matters such as informing consumers that they were required to pay a deduction and that it was fraudulent to file insurance claims that included false or misleading information. Ads that do not include a disclaimer will be considered prohibited.

Walker dismissed the Gale Force case on June 10 after lawyers said he was in dispute over the change.

U.S. District Judge Alan Windsor in January rejected the association’s and Apex’s request for a preliminary injunction against the law, saying the plaintiffs had not shown they had authority. As a result, the plaintiffs reconsidered the lawsuit in January and again on Monday, according to the court decision.

In addition to challenging the denial of advertising, the lawsuit alleges that a number of restrictions violate the First Amendment and the rights of due process and the commercial clause of the US Constitution. As an example, the law passed in 2021 does not allow roofers to interpret “policy provisions or to advise the insured (client) on the coverage or obligations under the insured’s property insurance policy or to adjust a property insurance claim on behalf of the insured. the insured, unless the contractor holds a license for a public regulator ‘.

The case alleges that the restriction violates the rights of the First Amendment.

Jim Saunders reports for the Florida News Service.

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