The Florida Bar has taken a very pro-active stance regarding wrongful solicitation of Hurricane Ian and Nicole policyholders. The Florida Bar filed an emergency Petition today for suspension of a Florida attorney working for an out of state law firm. The Petition alleges, among other items, deception in the solicitation of Hurricane Ian claimants:
Information about the Louisiana law firm was deliberately obscured on respondent’s “Mobile Claim Center” to create the impression that the truck is part of FEMA or the state-run insurance village, giving the Louisiana law firm the opportunity to solicit hurricane victims. The Louisiana law firm website deliberately includes the defunct motel address to create the impression that it has a bona fide law office in Florida.
I have heard of attorneys knocking on doors, cold calling claimants, and offering special consideration to roofers and contractors for referrals of Hurricane cases. All of this is illegal and unethical in Florida. I warned about this type of behavior in Public Adjusters and Those Directly Soliciting Insurance Claims on Behalf of Attorneys Are Committing a Crime and Can Go to Jail Along With the Attorneys:
Education is something Merlin Law Group does all the time and we also do it through this blog. I once told public adjusters in a speech that if you find an attorney directly soliciting, call me and I will turn that lawyer into the Bar. Former FAPIA Board member Mark Boardman did just that by calling me with a complaint about an attorney knocking on a door soliciting for property insurance claim work. I followed up and made a complaint to the Bar. The Florida Bar took away the attorney’s license to practice law.
Attorneys have an ethical duty to turn other attorneys into the Bar for doing these unethical things. It is unethical for an attorney to fail to do so. We have to “rat out” attorneys or we can be subject to discipline for failing to do so.
So, if you have proof of public adjusters or attorneys that are doing this, you now know what you can do—report the wrongdoers. If you are afraid, you can call me. While I am not the morality police, I hate cheating and am not afraid to report someone doing so.
We need to do something about this conduct. Most would-be criminals are afraid to break the law if they know they are going to get caught. It stops the wrongful behavior from ever happening. “Indifference” will stop very quickly if those wrongdoers know that anybody can turn them in and that they can expect to go to jail.
I have no personal information about the petition which was filed. However, a press release on the Bar website, Florida Bar Activates Lawyer Disciplinary Hotline Due To Hurricanes Ian And Nicole, invites the public to call regarding improper solicitation of Hurricane claimants:
In the wake of Hurricanes Nicole and Ian, The Florida Bar activated a new Disciplinary Hotline (833-979-8225) for Floridians to report allegations of professional misconduct and unlawful solicitation by lawyers.
Bar rules prohibit the solicitation — in person, by phone, via cold call, or through a third party — of a client who is not a family member or with whom the lawyer does not have a prior professional relationship.
Florida Bar Rule 4-7.18 (a) (Solicitation) states that a lawyer may not “solicit in person or permit employees or agents of the lawyer to solicit in person on the lawyer’s behalf, professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain.
Everybody should follow the law—especially attorneys.
Thought For The Day
A state is better governed which has few laws, and those laws strictly observed.