Criss lifts ban on release of TWIA information

Marilyn Tennissen Dec. 16, 2010, 10:12am


State District Judge Susan Criss (D - Galveston) issued an order Thursday dissolving her injunction prohibiting the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association from releasing information about a $189 million settlement with Hurricane Ike victims.

State Rep. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) has been fighting since September to learn how much money "Ike Recovery" lawyers received in the settlements and other information such as the amounts claimed for property damage, non-economic losses and living expenses.

"Today's order is a victory for open government and transparency," Taylor said in a prepared statement. "I'm pleased the court vindicated my position by removing the injunction.

"We, as legislators charged with important oversight responsibilities, have an obligation to work in good faith to solve the challenges facing TWIA," said Taylor, a member of the Joint Committee on Oversight of Windstorm Insurance.

"It's unfortunate not everyone involved in this process acted in the same manner. I look forward to receiving and studying the documents."

Several other entities, including the Southeast Texas Record and Texans for Lawsuit Reform, have submitted requests for the information from TWIA.

But at the request of Steve Mostyn, the attorney representing the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, Judge Criss granted a motion to stop TWIA from releasing the documents.

The Texas Attorney General's office was asked to weigh in on the matter and it determined that TWIA was subject to the Public Information Act.

After the OAG's decision, Criss asked Mostyn and attorneys for TWIA and Rep. Taylor to come up with an agreement detailing the specific information to be released. Criss said she would dissolve the injunction when the parties reached an agreement.

The TWIA general manager told the Joint Committee on Oversight of Windstorm Insurance on Monday that he would not release any information while Criss' order was still in force.

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