11/22/2010 5:16 PM
The Office of Attorney General has issued a ruling directing the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to release most of the requested information – including the amount of attorneys fees – in a recent lawsuit settlement between the association and a series of its policy holders in the Galveston area. Click here to read the Attorney General’s Opinion.
Rep. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), co-chairman of a legislative committee that oversees TWIA, requested information on the financial aspects of the settlement. TWIA is an insurance company created by state law to provide coastal windstorm insurance with the power to levy mandatory assessments on other property and casualty insurers when it runs out of money. When TWIA issues mandatory assessments, state general revenue is impacted because carriers get an insurance premium tax credit to offset some of the assessments.
“Due to the large volume of claims and legal fees, it appears that TWIA may exceed their reinsurance limits, which has the potential for a significant impact on the State's general revenue fund, Taylor said. “In light of the budgetary crisis that confronts the Legislature next session, any excessive payout for claims or legal fees must be scrutinized in order to make sound fiscal decisions for the future and to prevent its reoccurrence.”
Some of the plaintiff’s lawyers in the case – most notably Steve Mostyn, who provided the bulk of the funding for the Back to the Basics PAC, which took out ads Gov. Rick Perry and other GOP officeholders – secured a court order from Galveston County District Judge Susan Criss (D) directing TWIA not to release the information. The Attorney General’s office ruled should not have withheld the information requested – even after Criss told TWIA not to. In making that ruling, the office cited Government Code, Section 552.022(b), which reads as follows: “A court in this state may not order a governmental body or an officer for public information to withhold from public inspection any category of public information described by Subsection (a) or to not produce the category of public information for inspection or duplication, unless the category of information is expressly made confidential under other law.”