Texas Lawmaker Presses on with TWIA Settlement Information Request

October 27, 2010

Texas State Rep. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) has filed a mandamus petition in the 1st Court of Appeals in Houston seeking relief from a temporary stay of his request for information concerning a $189 million settlement between the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) and a number of its insureds over Hurricane Ike claims.

Taylor has been battling Steve Mostyn, the lead plaintiff in the case, over access to information about the settlement. Taylor says he’s concerned about, among other things, a payment of $86 million in legal fees as part of the settlement.

Taylor maintains he is seeking information related to the settlement in his capacity as the Co-Chairman of the Joint Windstorm Insurance Legislative Oversight Board, a member of the House Insurance Committee, the Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness and as the State Representative for House District 24 in Galveston County.

“For months now, I have sought to fulfill my legislative responsibilities with regard to TWIA. In order to fix the problems with TWIA, we’ve got to fully understand what’s going on and comprehend the scope and magnitude of the issues,” Taylor said. “If there is a problem paying timely claims, we need to know that. If there is a problem with paying out $86 million in legal fees, we need to know that too. We should be putting people back in their houses, not making attorneys rich.”

Although Taylor’s initial request did not seek private, confidential information on claimants, he issued a subsequent request clarifying only settlement details related to the reported $86 million in legal fees obtained by Mostyn on behalf of 2,400 homeowners was necessary.

Mostyn has previously asserted that the information in the settlement is confidential and suggested that Taylor was over-stepping his authority as a state representative in requesting information about a confidential settlement.

He also asserted that Taylor’s reason for requesting the information is politically motivated, as Mostyn is a well-known political donor to the Democratic Party. Mostyn has said the timing of Taylor’s original request “strongly suggests that he his using his position on the legislative oversight committee for non-legislative political and partisan purposes.”

In addition to the mandamus, Taylor has filed a Motion for Relief that seeks to lift a temporary restraining order by State District Judge Susan Criss (D-Galveston) banning TWIA from releasing the settlement information. The mandamus petition asserts that Judge Criss’ order was an unconstitutional interference by a judge in lawful exercise of legislative and executive agency duties.

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