Texas hurricane cash cow consequence

The SE Texas Record Apr. 17, 2011, 10:25am

Natural disasters can bring out the best in people -- and sometimes, the worst as well.

Good people pull together in the aftermath of a disaster and look for ways to help their neighbors. But others only see opportunity to turn misery to their advantage.

No normal Texan looks forward to a hurricane -- unless he's traveling to New Orleans and planning to stop in the French Quarter and reserve a rum with a view.

But storm-chasing plaintiff's lawyers aren't normal Texans. The hurricanes that sadden and impoverish others offer them an opportunity to get rich and happy.

It's not the hurricanes that enrich them. It's the lawsuits filed in the aftermath. Most recently, in the wake of Hurricane Ike, it's the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) that's helping to make them rich and happy.

The state of Texas set up the TWIA to be the insurer of last resort for Gulf Coast homeowners whose properties suffer wind and hail damage. But according to legal reformers, it has devolved into a slush fund for a certain set of plaintiff lawyers.

That is the critical conclusion of a report released earlier this month by Texans for Lawsuit Reform.

According to the report, tens of millions of dollars from Ike-related settlements and fees were paid at the discretion of the general manager of TWIA without any oversight or guidance. The general manager acknowledges that payouts were "unprecedented and not justifiable based on the facts, the science, the insurance policies, or the law."

The report concludes that a "small group of lawyers is becoming extraordinarily wealthy at the expense of Texas insurance buyers and Texas taxpayers."

That's not very neighborly is it? In fact, lawyers like that seem more like looters. Maybe those in authority should deal with them as such.

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