Last year was a rough one for Houston attorney Steve Mostyn, and he's probably glad it's over. Never mind that he brought the troubles on himself.
Introspection is not one of Mostyn's personality traits. He's not likely to subject himself to self-examination, pinpoint what he's doing wrong, then resolve to change his ways and do things differently in 2017.
Somebody else, similarly chastened, might react that way, but that doesn’t seem to be Mostyn’s way.
Some of his targets, however, have learned their lessons. They've stopped rolling over for him and started fighting back, and that's what made 2016 such a bad year for him.
State Farm won in court 16 times last year, and Mostyn was the man they defeated in a good many of those cases.
A growing number of the judges Mostyn appears before have learned lessons, too. The two judges who presided over cases Mostyn lost to State Farm in Randall and Potter Counties last October – John Board of the 181st District and Dan Schaap of the 47th – complained that most of his cases should have been filed in county, rather than district courts. They advised him that they would consider reassigning them.
But U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez was the one who really chastened Mostyn. Last March, while granting State Farm a summary judgment in one of his hail suits, she reminded Mostyn that failure to provide evidence for claims is sanctionable.
At a hearing the following month, after another summary judgment for State Farm, Judge Alvarez challenged Mostyn to explain why he shouldn't be sanctioned for repeatedly bringing factually unsupported storm claims.
In December, still refraining from imposing sanctions, she let Mostyn have it again.
“In a bout of cosmic irony, the Mostyn Law Firm has unleashed a hailstorm of its own upon the Court in the form of baseless claims,” Judge Alvarez wrote. “The Court is not pleased.”
A reasonable person should have gotten the message by now. Are you listening, Mr. Mostyn?