Tort reform activists say relief fund benefits lawyer more than homeowners

Steve Mostyn has collected "hundreds of millions" in legal fees through a special agency created to help homeowners in the Gulf Coast area.   Contributed photo

According to a tort reform group in Texas, an attorney in the state has been bankrolling off a "last resort" fund setup for disaster relief in the Gulf Coast region. 

"It sometimes seems like Texas taxpayers bankrolled a billion-dollar trust fund for the personal use of attorney Steve Mostyn," a press release on the official Texans for Lawsuit Reform website said.

The Texas state legislature had set up the fund called Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) as a last resort type of insurance for homeowners in the Gulf Coast area who may have suffered damage from wind and hail. 

"Somewhere along the line, however, the insurer of last resort for homeowners became a honeypot of first resort for Steve Mostyn," the release said.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform pointed to the last of the Hurricane Rita lawsuits against TWIA in Jeffereson County District Court as an example of such waste by lawsuit abuse in the system as a case in point. The case was decided after more than a decade since the storm passed. The plaintiffs received $51,000 in that case, according to the tort reformists. Mostyn's firm, however, received a payout around four times that amount: $216,000. 

"Even with $100,000 in penalties tacked on as a result of allegedly unlawful delays by TWIA, the homeowner-plaintiffs still garnered $65,000 less than their mouthpieces," the press release said.

The group further said the delay in payment had to due with the claimants failing to fully cooperate with an investigation in which they were to provide evidence in the form of records, documents and accurate expenses for the repairs. Mostyn is the largest beneficiary of these TWIA relief funds, according to the organization. They say Mostyn has collected "hundreds of millions" in legal fees through a special agency created to help homeowners in the Gulf Coast area. 

The group said Mostyn has political muscle as a lobbyist even though he does not register as such. They called him "omnipresent" at the capitol in Texas. They also say he secured a defeat of a measure that would streamline TWIA funding and management procedures and defends pro-trial lawyer, anti-tort reformist policies. 

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