The Texas Tribune interviews Steve Mostyn, leading litigator in matters relating to storm damage, about what to expect after Harvey.
TT: How will HB 1774 impact people after Harvey?
MOSTYN: When you lower the penalties … if you lower them down to almost nothing and make it difficult for people to hire lawyers, then the conduct will get worse, so it’s going to be more difficult to get paid for [storm-related claims] because they don’t quite have the same [legal] tools in the chest that they used to … whatever length of rope you give the insurance companies — not all of them but a large, large number of them — they’ll run as far as they can run.
TT: Besides typical insurance policy lawsuits, do you see any other storm-related lawsuits on the horizon?
MOSTYN: There’s been some contact about some of these folks, where there was construction going on in some of these neighborhoods and they had blocked off all the [storm drains]. They did that so they wouldn’t get pollution into the [drainage] systems, and some of those companies didn’t go in and remove them and so some of those neighborhoods flooded.
We’ve had calls about people in Meyerland who bought homes, and on the home disclosure there’s the box checked off that the house has never flooded and maybe it’s flooded twice.”
TT: Who would be liable in that scenario?
MOSTYN: It would be back against the seller probably. And maybe the Realtor if the Realtor made representations.
Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of lawsuits in the near to medium-term future. Sometimes that’s the only way to get justice done. In the meantime, if you or someone you know that has been affected by Harvey think you’re getting a raw deal from your insurance company, call a lawyer.