John Specia

AUSTIN - Retired Bexar County Judge John Specia will preside over pretrial proceedings in 16 Hurricane Rita suits, the Texas Multidistrict Litigation Panel has decided.

The panel, which can gather civil suits involving common questions from many courts, has taken charge of several suits that attorney Steve Mostyn filed against Delta Lloyds in Jefferson, Orange, Jasper and Hardin counties.

"The petitions in all of the underlying cases contain nearly identical generalized allegations of wrongdoing," Justice George Hanks wrote for the panel in September.

All claims arose from the same standard policy, practices and procedures, he wrote.

Consolidation will ensure that discovery disputes are resolved consistently, he wrote.

The panel picked Specia in October.

Mostyn objected to the appointment, arguing that the suits didn't belong in Bexar County.

The panel responded that Specia would act as a Jefferson County judge.

"Judge Specia may, in his discretion, conduct hearings by telephone," the panel wrote.

He can choose a clerk and decide where to keep files, they wrote.

Multidistrict consolidation ends when discovery ends. For trials, the panel sends each case back where it began.

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