David Yates Aug. 8, 2014, 9:39am

BEAUMONT (Legal Newsline) – Beaumont plaintiffs attorneys are donating thousands of dollars to the re-election campaign of one the local judges who routinely presides over their civil lawsuits.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, Judge Donald Floyd, a Democrat, collected nearly $13,000 for his re-election bid to the 172nd District Court – most of which was supplied by Beaumont trial lawyers, campaign finance reports show.

Floyd has presided over the 172nd District Court in Beaumont since 1989.

Some of the more notable attorneys and law firms contributing to the judge’s campaign in that six month time span, include: Hart Green ($1,500); the Portner Bond law firm ($2,500); Michael Ramsey of the Mostyn Law Firm ($2,500); Mitchell Toups ($2,500) and the Weller Green Toups & Terrell law firm ($2,000).

However, Floyd’s largest donations from Beaumont law firms came back in November.

On Nov. 6, the Provost Umphrey Law Firm made a contribution of $15,000.

Floyd’s campaign finance reports further show that Reaud & Associates made a donation of $15,000 on Nov. 14. And almost two weeks later, Reaud, Morgan & Quinn made a separate contribution of $15,000 on Nov. 26.

The firms’ founders, Walter Umphrey and Wayne Reaud, earned notoriety for their work in asbestos mass torts. Umphrey and Reaud, two of the “Tobacco Five” lawyers, also earned fame by negotiating a multibillion-dollar tobacco settlement for Texas in 1999, which netted $3.3 billion in attorney fees.

Some of the attorneys and firms contributing to the judge’s campaign have ongoing cases in his court, including Reaud’s firm.

In May 2008, Floyd, at the request of RMQ partner Glen Morgan, tossed out a jury verdict in favor of chemical giant DuPont without offering an explanation as to why.

The RMQ firm, representing the family of Willis Whisnant Jr., had unsuccessfully asked the jury to award its clients $1 billion in damages, arguing that DuPont maliciously exposed Whisnant to asbestos throughout his refinery career.

A Jefferson County jury found no negligence on the part of DuPont, but when Morgan asked for a new trial, Floyd granted it.

Since Floyd never clarified his reasons for granting a new trial against DuPont, despite orders by the Texas Supreme Court to do so, people can only speculate on his motives for granting RMQ’s motion for new trial.

After leaving the matter pending for years, a recent court  filing states that on June 9, counsel for DuPont received an unsigned order granting a new trial. DuPont's attorneys fired a response June 10, urging Floyd not to sign the proposed order and instead sign a new final judgement for DuPont based on the jury's verdict.

Floyd will face off against Republican challenger Rick Williams in the general election.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, Williams has $5,425 in total contributions, campaign finance records show.


Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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