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BARNETT FILES SUIT TO STOP INSURANCE DEPARTMENT FROM INTERFERING IN APPROVED ACTIVITIES

 OCALA, Fla., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Barnett Bank of Marion County, N.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of Barnett Banks, Inc., has filed a law suit in federal court here asking that the court confirm that federal law overrides a state statute that the Florida Insurance Department has said it will use to block the company from selling insurance. Banks in many other states are already successfully meeting their markets' needs by selling insurance.
 Barnett bought the Linda Clifford Insurance Agency in Belleview, Fla. 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 state law is contrary to this federal law and, as such, is unconstitutional," said David Wells, of Mahoney, Adams & Criser, Barnett's attorney. "The Florida Department of Insurance has made clear its intention to use the Florida statute to attempt to block Barnett from selling insurance through licensed insurance employees from a branch located in a city with a population of less than 5,000 as permitted by federal law. We had no choice but to file a federal lawsuit asking the court to declare the state statute unconstitutional," said Charles E. Rice, Barnett's chairman and chief executive officer. "We believe that the consumers in Florida will be best served if the Department of Insurance joins with us to seek this confirmation from the federal courts. Barnett's entry into insurance sales should, over time, attract new underwriters to the state and help ease the insurance crisis that has occurred in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. This means more availability and a better deal for the consumer."
 The Clifford agency, with annual premiums of $2 million, sells property, casualty and life insurance. Barnett will maintain the current activities of the agency and Linda Clifford will remain as the principal agent.
 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- 10/22/93
 /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:

JB-SS -- FL003 -- 5597 10/22/93 09:04 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 22, 1993
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