The Florida Bar has taken a very proactive stance regarding illegal solicitation of Hurricane Ian and Nicole policyholders. The Florida Bar filed an emergency today to disbar a Florida attorney who works for an out-of-state law firm. The petition alleges, among other things, fraud in the solicitation of Hurricane Ian creditors:
Information about the Louisiana law firm was deliberately blacked out on the defendant’s “Mobile Claim Center” to create the impression that the truck is part of FEMA or the state insurance village, giving the Louisiana law firm the opportunity to recruit hurricane victims. The Louisiana law firm’s website deliberately includes the defunct motel address to create the impression that it has a good law office in Florida.
I have heard of attorneys knocking on doors, calling creditors and offering special consideration to roofers and contractors for hurricane referrals. All of this is illegal and unethical in Florida. I warned against this kind of behavior Public agents and those who directly solicit insurance claims on behalf of solicitors commit a crime and can go to jail with the solicitors:
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 a lawyer who directly asks for, call me and I will make that lawyer into the bar. Former FAPIA board member Mark Boardman did just that by calling me with a complaint about a lawyer knocking on the door asking for property insurance work. I followed up and made a complaint to the bar association. The Florida Bar revoked the attorney̵7;s license to practice law.
Lawyers have an ethical duty to make other lawyers of the bar do these unethical things. It is unethical for a lawyer to fail to do so. We must “call out” lawyers or we may be subject to discipline for not doing so.
So, if you have evidence of public adjusters or attorneys doing this, now you know what to do – report the perpetrators. If you are scared, you can call me. While I’m not the morality police, I hate cheating and am not afraid to report anyone who does it.
We need to do something about this behavior. Most would-be criminals are afraid to break the law if they know they will get caught. It stops the wrong behavior from ever happening. “Indifference” will end very quickly if these offenders know that anyone can turn them in and they can expect to go to jail.
I have no personal information about the petition that was filed. A press release on the Bar website, Florida Bar activates attorney disciplinary hotline due to Hurricanes Ian and Nicoleurges the public to call regarding inappropriate solicitation of hurricane applicants:
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 illegal solicitation of attorneys.
The Bar Rules prohibit the solicitation – in person, by telephone, 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 previous professional relationship.
Florida Bar Rule 4-7.18 (a) (solicitation) states that a lawyer may not “personally solicit or permit employees or agents of the lawyer to personally solicit, on the lawyer’s behalf, professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or previous professional relationship when a substantial motive for the lawyer to do so is the lawyer’s financial gain.
Everyone should follow the law, especially lawyers.
A state is better governed that has few laws, and those laws are strictly followed.
— Rene Descartes