HOUSTON – Spring has definitely come in like a lion in Texas so far, but no lamb is in sight yet as a torrent of storm lawsuits are currently flooding state courts.
In Webb County alone, 113 storm lawsuits were filed in a four-day period, from May 3 – May 6, against a wide-range of insurers, including State Farm, USAA, Allstate and Texas Farmers to name a few.
Court records show attorneys for the Mostyn Law Firm in Houston brought the majority of the complaints, with firm founder J. Steve Mostyn named as the attorney in charge for 33 claims and Gregory Cox, a Mostyn attorney, responsible for 9 lawsuits.
On May 6 Mostyn found himself in a McAllen federal courtroom to show cause on why he should not be sanctioned for repeatedly bringing factually unsupported storm claims.
Within 24 hours of his sanction hearing, Mostyn filed a total of 35 lawsuits against insurers in Texas, one of which was a hailstorm complaint in Hidalgo County (the county of McAllen) on the day of his hearing, court records show.
As of May 10, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez has not yet ruled on whether to impose Rule 11 sanctions against Mostyn.
The mass filings that follow every major storm in Texas are causing larger ramifications for the state, says Jennifer Harris, a spokesperson for Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse.
“It’s easy to say in jest, ‘what the hail,' but the number of storm chasing lawsuits is no joking matter and is very much cause for concern," Harris said.
"The explosion of lawsuits generated by some storm-chasing trial lawyers in recent years is already having ramifications across Texas. It’s driving up costs and driving away coverage both for families and small businesses. We’ve watched this issue closely, and TALA will continue to make consumers aware of the dangers of these type of lawsuits.
"We’re also optimistic that the Texas Legislature will return to examine this hail storm lawsuit issue again in when they convene in Austin in January.”
Another hail attorney who has been busy in May is Edinburg attorney R. Kent Livesay, who is currently fighting accusations of barratry.
From May 5 to May 6, Livesay filed seven hailstorm lawsuits in Hidalgo County against insurance companies, court records show.
In Webb County, Livesay brought 11 storm complaints against insurers within the first week of May.
Douglas Pennebaker, who bills himself as a San Antonio insurance law attorney on his website, was also active in Texas courts to start the month.
Through May 5 to May 6, Pennebaker brought a total of 27 complaints against insurers, nine of which were hailstorm lawsuits filed in Hidalgo County.
The remainder of Pennebaker’s suits were filed in Webb County, court records show.
According to the Insurance Council of Texas, 2016 weather events in Texas have already caused billions of dollars in damage.