Last week, lame-duck State District Judge Bret Griffin ordered State Sen. Larry Taylor to testify in a lawsuit brought by the Brownsville Independent School District against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. The school district is represented by trial lawyer Steve Mostyn, a prolific donor to the Democratic Party. Gilad Edelman and Eli Okun reported on the ruling in the Texas Tribune:
A state senator will have to testify in response to allegations that he exerted improper political pressure on the state windstorm insurance agency, a judge ruled Thursday.
Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, has denied accusations that he pressured the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to fight more insurance claims cases in court in order to avoid paying large settlement sums to trial lawyers who often donate to Democratic politicians. Taylor vowed to appeal the decision.
Sen. Taylor issued a scathing response to the decision, pointing out that Judge Griffin should have recused himself from the case after Taylor was instrumental in defeating him in the March GOP primary.
SEN. TAYLOR DENOUNCES BIASED RULING
– Defeated Judge Rules in Favor of Democrat Mega Donor Steve Mostyn –
AUSTIN, TEXAS (July 7, 2014) . . . State Senator Larry Taylor (R – Friendswood) denounced a preliminary ruling issued late Friday by State District Judge Bret Griffin allowing plaintiff attorney and Democratic Party mega donor Steve Mostyn to take Taylor’s deposition in a lawsuit against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). Taylor, who is not a party to the Mostyn case in question, opposed the motion, along with Attorney General Greg Abbott. Taylor has indicated an appeal of Griffin’s decision will be immediate.
Senator Taylor said, “Bret Griffin’s ruling is the latest installment of Steve Mostyn’s political harassment and intimidation campaign. I will not stand by and tolerate the trial lawyers’ agenda to trump transparent government and their attempt to misrepresent the truth to the policyholders of TWIA or the constituents of my district. Griffin’s decision to grant Mostyn’s request represents nothing more than political favoritism and a permission slip for an unwarranted fishing expedition.”
Earlier this year, Senator Taylor conveyed his strong opposition to Griffin’s gubernatorial appointment to the bench due to Griffin’s close ties to Democrat trial lawyers including Steve Mostyn and Tony Buzbee. Taylor expressed his dissatisfaction during the appointment process in his official role as a Texas Senator and publically endorsed Griffin’s opponent during the 2014 GOP primary. Griffin was defeated shortly after his appointment in the recent Republican primary run-off in Galveston County last month by conservative GOP attorney Pat Grady. Taylor added, “Due to the relevant circumstances of a disputed appointment and recent election defeat, any reputable jurist would have recused themselves from choosing to hear this motion.”
Personal injury trial lawyers who have traditionally been the single biggest source of funding for the Democrat Party, including former Galveston County Democrat Party Chair Tony Buzbee, have largely financed Griffin’s political campaigns. Buzbee and Mostyn have worked together on lawsuits against TWIA and have collected millions of dollars in attorney fees from those lawsuits.
According to campaign finance reports, Steve Mostyn contributed over $10 million in 2012 to democratic campaigns and causes. He is one of the largest contributors to the various political efforts of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Wendy Davis. In recent years, Mostyn has also spent over $2,000,000 in his unsuccessful attempts to defeat Senator Taylor through funding “Trojan Horse” political opponents, direct mail pieces, billboards, robocalls and with negative smear campaigns.
“Over the past five low-activity storms seasons (2009-2013), hundreds of millions of dollars that should have been set aside for future storms has instead been used to pay excessive legal fees,” Taylor said. According to the consulting firm of Alvarez and Marsal, the most active plaintiff law firms, including Steve Mostyn, have earned an estimated $250 million suing TWIA.
Senator Taylor said, “If a TWIA policyholder has a legitimate covered claim, that person deserves to be paid fairly and promptly. Over the last five legislative sessions, I have filed bills to reform and replace TWIA with a better structure to ensure a fair process and prompt payment of legitimate claims. I’m trying to protect my constituents who deserve to know their TWIA premium dollars will be there to pay for losses in the event of a storm. That is the job I was elected to do and I will continue to look out for the citizens of Senate District 11.”
The outcome of this case could have far reaching ramifications for those of us on the coast. If Mostyn, et. al., are successful in continuing to drain TWIA’s resources, there will be nothing left to pay homeowners in case another storm hits.