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BARNETT BANKS SEEKS INJUNCTION TO STOP INSURANCE DEPARTMENT FROM INTERFERING IN APPROVED ACTIVITIES

 OCALA, Fla., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Barnett Bank of Marion County, N.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of Barnett Banks, Inc.(NYSE: BBI), today filed a motion in federal court here asking the court to enjoin the state insurance commissioner from blocking the approved insurance agency activities of its Belleview, Fla. branch.
 The state insurance department on Friday ordered the Belleview branch's agents to stop selling insurance. Barnett contends that the order is illegal under federal law and that its lawful business is being harmed.
 "The insurance department's actions are unconstitutional and the state insurance commissioner has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal as agreeing that federal law allows a bank to own and operate an insurance agency," said Charles E. Rice, Barnett chairman and chief executive officer. "But more importantly, we believe that the consumers of Florida are being harmed by the department's interpretation of law. The real losers are Florida's consumers who would benefit from greater competition among insurance providers."
 Last week, Barnett filed a law suit in federal court here asking that the court confirm that federal law overrides the state statute that the Florida Insurance Department is using to block the company from selling insurance.
 Barnett brought the Linda Clifford Insurance Agency in Belleview under a federal law that allows national banks to own and operate insurance agencies from towns with less than 5,000 residents. This law was recently upheld by a federal Appeals Court ruling in Washington D.C. The Clifford agency, with annual premiums of $2 million, sells property, casualty and life insurance.
 With $37 billion in assets and 632 offices in Florida and Georgia, Barnett Banks, Inc. is the leading financial institution in Florida and the 19th-largest in the United States. The company's stock (BBI) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
 -0- 10/25/93
 /CONTACT: Bob Stickler (media) 904-791-5437, or home, 904-396-9284, or Susan Friloux (analysts), 904-791-7627, or home, 904-246-2965, both of Barnett Banks/
 (BBI)


CO: Barnett Banks, Inc. ST: Florida IN: FIN SU:

JV-RK -- FL002 -- 6708 10/26/93 08:25 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 26, 1993
Words:344
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