Constitutional Law

5th Circuit Revives Lawyer's Suit Against Texas re Demand to Remove 'Workers' Comp' from Domain Name


A federal appeals court has revived a Texas attorney’s suit against the state, over an agency’s demand that he stop using the words “Texas” and “Workers’ Comp” in the domain name of his law blog.

However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also partially affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of John Gibson’s constitutional case, explaining in a Tuesday opinion (PDF) that the cease-and-desist letter procedure used by the Texas Department of Insurance provided adequate due process and that his Fifth Amendment “takings” claim isn’t yet ripe for adjudication.

The appellate panel reinstated Gibson’s claim that the state law under which the insurance department made its takedown demand infringed on his First Amendment free-speech rights, explaining that more evidence is needed to determine whether the law is constitutional as applied to the lawyer’s blog.

As detailed in the opinion and an earlier ABAJournal.com post, Texas Labor Code § 419.002 forbids the use of the state’s name, in conjunction with the phrase “workers’ comp,” except as legally authorized, in “any impersonation, advertisement, solicitation, business name, business activity, document, product or service.”

Hat tip: Courthouse News.

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