No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

Help for Victims of Florida’s Witch Hunt

Help for victims of Florida’s WITCH HUNT!

Interior Design Protection Council
Legal assistance!

Over the last year, many designers who live or provide services in Florida have contacted me for a legal recommendation to understand and defend against the Board of Architecture and Interior Design (BOAID) disciplinary actions (a.k.a. “the witch hunt”).  Regrettably, I did not personally know of an attorney who had expertise in regulatory proceedings and was unable to give a referral.

Well, I am delighted to tell you that is no longer the case!  I have been contact by a Florida attorney with many years of extensive experience in interior design regulatory laws and procedure.  She knows Statute 481 and the DBPR inside and out.

And she wants to help! She does not agree with the BOAID’s very broad interpretation of the statute.  She is offering representation to persons targeted by the BOAID on a cost-only basis and instead will seek legal fees via statute from BOAID (which really should be held liable for paying fees for defense of their unfair “enforcement” activities).

As you may be aware, most people accused of unlicensed interior design activity either resolve it by attending the “probable cause” hearings and signing an affidavit admitting guilt and accepting cease-and-desist orders, or they hold out until after an administrative complaint is filed and then settle, paying a fine of something less than the $5000 threatened by the Board, even though they do not agree than they have violated any laws.

We believe more harm than good may come from the accused attending these probable cause proceedings without expert, experienced legal representation.  First, the cease-and-desist orders that the board routinely issues in lieu of a finding of probable cause are not subject to dispute at a hearing through the Florida Administrative Procedures Act (see section 455.228, F.S.) and future “violation” of a C&D can lead to a heavier second penalty.  Although the designers who do not appear will most likely be issued an administrative complaint, the complaint certainly can be challenged. The BOAID would have to prove their accusations at an administrative hearing through clear and convincing evidence.   How many victims of this witch hunt “knowingly” violated the statute?  The BOAID ignores that crucial element.

Moreover, if an “improvident finding of probable cause” is found in response to the complaint, it is possible that the defendant could require that the agency/board pay attorneys fees and costs (see section 57.111, F.S.).   Interestingly, if you perform a search on the Division of Administrative Hearings website (www.doah.state.fl.us) which is where disputed complaints would be adjudicated, you will see that the BOAID has not actually gone to hearing on an administrative complaint against a designer since the 1990s, and then the cases involved only disputed licensure denials.  Instead, the board routinely “helps” people into compliance with some pretty stiff fines and costs. Or they “help” them become compliant by telling them they can avoid a fine if they just sign an affidavit admitting guilt and promising not to do it again.  What they don’t tell them is that the admission of guilt becomes public domain, and any client or potential client using an internet search engine (like Google) will see their Florida record for years, perhaps a lifetime.  This result of the witch hunt is just one more way that the Florida cartel places “unlicensed” designers at an unfair competitive disadvantage.

Since there are not many attorneys willing to actually challenge them, the BOAID makes a ton of money this way.  Most lawyers without administrative agency experience are not familiar with regulatory law or procedures, so even when respondents have legal representation, some of the professional boards are able to get away with very iffy procedural practices.

This intimidation must STOP NOW!
If you or someone you know has been issued a cease and desist, please tell them to contact me at pmorrow@IDPCinfo.org and attach a copy of the cease and desist order, and I will be happy to answer any questions and put them in touch with this attorney.

IDPC is pleased to be involved in putting yet one more nail in IDAF’s coffin.  Click here to read how we’ve helped the Florida design community over the last year.

Please show your support for IDPC’s work by becoming a member or by making a donation of your choice.

Best regards,

signature
Patti Morrow
Executive Director
Support IDPC:
About IDPC:

Advertisements

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Florida | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Florida Design Law to be Challenged!

See press release below:

To view as a webpage: click here

Interior Design Protection Council

Finally!
It’s time for the Florida cartel to face the music!

And your support is needed!
THE INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE
is taking on
THE FLORIDA INTERIOR DESIGN CARTEL!

This could be the most important event in the future of interior design. Come and be a part of history in the making! Attend the press conference and RALLY. . .

Design Community: Click here for FLYER with rally date, time and details

Media: Click here for PRESS RELEASE

Blog: Click here to COMMENT

Forward this issue to a Friend

Please download and print copies of the flyer and post them EVERYWHERE!

— especially in showrooms and vendor locations —

Colleagues, please join the fight for our rights and freedom to design

With your help, we CAN resist or repeal legislation that restricts your practice or right to call yourself “interior designer” in every state — including YOURS. You can help by joining our team!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@IDPCinfo.org.

Patti Morrow
Executive Director
Interior Design Protection Council

IDPC is the only national organization solely dedicated to protecting the rights and livelihoods of ALL designers in our country.
Please support our efforts!
Click here to become a member of IDPC.
Join Our Mailing List!

==============================================================
INTERIOR DESIGN PROTECTION COUNCIL

91 Reserve Place, Concord, New Hampshire 03301 Phone: 603.228.8550 Fax: 603.229.1339 http://www.IDPCinfo.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT:

May 21, 2009 Patti Morrow 603.228.8550

Florida interior designers victimized by restrictive law to get relief

Lawsuit, press conference and rally on May 27th in Tallahassee

Concord, NH – On Wednesday, May 27th, a public rally will be held at Waller Park in Tallahassee to coincide with a
legal challenge filed against Florida’s interior design practice law.

The Institute for Justice (IJ) is filing suit in Florida on behalf of several small business entrepreneurs whose basic
Constitutional rights have been violated by the most restrictive interior design law in the country. At issue is a Florida
law that restricts residential interior designers from advertising themselves as “interior designers” and prevents them from
legally practicing any type of commercial design. The law also prohibits industries such as office furniture and restaurant
equipment dealers from doing furniture or equipment layouts, an essential practice needed to succeed in those fields.

“Interior designers are already struggling with this difficult economy,” said Patti Morrow, executive director of
the Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), the national grassroots voice for independent designers. “The last thing
they need is a completely unnecessary law that places an additional burden on their ability to earn a living.”

The proponents of the law, the Interior Design Associations Foundation (IDAF) and the American Society of
Interior Designers (ASID) maintain that Florida Statute 481 – and licensing in general – is needed to protect the health,
safety and welfare of the public, a claim that remains unsubstantiated even after the 30-year pursuit to impose interior
design licensing in all 50 states. Yet, since 2003 more than 600 unreasonable disciplinary actions have been brought
against members of the Florida design community, none of which had anything to do with public safety. When asked
about the aggressive disciplinary actions and increased fines imposed by the regulatory board, Janice Young,
spokesperson for IDAF responded, “We do it [penalize unlicensed design] by making the punishment more painful
and significant.”

“Florida’s restraint of trade and censorship of interior designers is blatantly unconstitutional and represents a
deliberate attempt by a tiny faction within the interior design industry to (1) eliminate their competition by restricting the
type of services they would be free to provide in nearly every other state, (2) silence competitors by preventing people
from truthfully advertising the services they do provide, and (3) improperly burden and discriminate against interstate
commerce,” said Clark Neily, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice. “This law has come from a minority of elitist
insiders within the design industry itself, not as a result of public demand or legislative determinations that such regulation
is necessary for the public good. They are clearly abusing government power to drive thousands of hard-working small
businessmen and women out of business. This law cannot stand.”

Over the last year, IDPC spearheaded the effort to raise awareness of this issue in Florida, by conducting town
hall meetings, lobbying the legislative and executive branches to deregulate the law, supporting amendments to FS 481,
opposing changes to the Florida Building Code, exposing blatantly false statements made by IDAF, revealing the
ruthlessly aggressive actions of the law firm retained to prosecute designers, and by publicizing the devastating effects on
the lives of these victims. IDPC’s widespread grassroots support will mobilize to support the IJ legal challenge.
“We value the innovation, creativity and diversity as well as the multiple methods of entry that have been the
cornerstone of this dynamic profession, serving the public without harm. Florida’s once-size-fits-all licensing scheme for
interior designers could not be more contrary to those values,” explained Morrow. “Protectionism, censorship, cartel,
monopoly, domination, control, special interests – you name, it’s all here, and it’s having a devastating effect on the lives
of Florida designers. It’s time to pull the curtains on the interior design cartel.”

May 21, 2009 Posted by | ASID, Florida, Institute for Justice, Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC) | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments