Seven years ago, the Texas House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence held a hearing at which tort reformers and trial attorneys both agreed that barratry is a problem in our state. One participant even recommended that district attorneys be pressured to prosecute “swindlers.”
Who was that champion of lawyerly rectitude?
None other than Steve Mostyn, the soliciting-challenged, client-inventing, and claims-inflating gouger of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.
As far as we know, no one in the hearing room laughed out loud at this howler, but there must have been a number of attendees forced to smother a snort or snicker.
As a joke, it would have been funny, like Al Capone calling for a crackdown on organized crime. If he was in earnest, however, the utter absence of self-awareness is stunning.
Whichever it was – wit or witlessness – the phenomenon persists and is now affecting members of Mostyn's firm.
At a recent hearing on the hailstorm lawsuit abuse bill, Rene Sigman, head of litigation for Mostyn Law, told members of the Texas House Insurance Committee that nobody, not even in her own firm, likes storm-chasing attorneys.
Just like her boss, Sigman put everyone present at the hearing in the uncomfortable position of wondering whether to laugh or not, it being impossible for them to determine with any certainty that she wasn't putting them on.
After all, she couldn't have been serious, what with Mostyn Law being the idol of storm-chasing attorneys everywhere, the storm chaser's storm chaser, so to speak.
Could Sigman have meant that she and her colleagues don't like other storm chasers, not appreciating the competition and preferring to have a monopoly on the trade?
Or was it Sigman's inadvertent admission of communal self-loathing, an unintended acknowledgment that she and her fellow Mostyn storm chasers don't like themselves much either? Could it have been a Sigman Freudian slip?