Trial lawyers prep for war on Perry
A lawyer was driving his big BMW down the highway, singing to himself, “I love my BMW, I love my BMW.” Focusing on his car, not his driving, he smashed into a tree. He miraculously survived, but his car was totaled. “My BMW! My BMW!” he sobbed.
A good Samaritan drove by and cried out, “Sir, sir, you’re bleeding! And my god, your left arm is gone!”
The lawyer, horrified, screamed “My Rolex! My Rolex!”
America’s trial lawyers are getting ready to make the case against one of their biggest targets in years: Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Among litigators, there is no presidential candidate who inspires the same level of hatred — and fear — as Perry, an avowed opponent of the plaintiffs’ bar who has presided over several rounds of tort reform as governor.
And if Perry ends up as the Republican nominee for president, deep-pocketed trial lawyers intend to play a central role in the campaign to defeat him.
That’s a potential financial boon to a president who has unsettled trial lawyers with his own rhetorical gestures in the direction of tort reform. A general election pitting Barack Obama and Perry could turn otherwise apathetic trial lawyers into a phalanx of pro-Obama bundlers and super PAC donors.
“If this guy emerges, if he’s a serious candidate, if he doesn’t blow up in the next couple weeks, it’s going to motivate many in the plaintiffs’ bar to dig deeper to support President Obama,” said Sean Coffey, a former securities litigator who ran for attorney general of New York last year. “That will end up driving a lot of money to the Democratic side.”
Some attorneys don’t intend to wait and see how Perry fares in the GOP primaries.
Democratic Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn — who, along with his wife, Amber, donated nearly $9 million to Texas candidates and party committees in the 2010 cycle — said he’s in the process of forming “some federal PACs” to take on Perry. That will likely include a federal super PAC that could take in the kind of massive donations that are permitted in Texas.
Mostyn said his political spending wouldn’t just center on the trial lawyers’ agenda.
Q: What do you call a lawyer who doesn’t chase ambulances?
Q: Did you hear about the group of terrorists that hijacked a plane full of lawyers?
A: They called down to ground control with their list of demands, threatening that if their demands weren’t met, they would release one lawyer every hour.
Steve Mostyn is personal injury trial lawyer who makes millions suing businesses and employers. Although he went to court to keep it secret, Mostyn and other personal injury lawyers made millions of dollars in legal fees from the recent Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) settlements involving the Hurricane Ike claims.
Many State Legislators believe homeowners and taxpayers have a right to know how much lawyers made in the TWIA-IKE settlements and how much of the settlements went to the people whose homes were damaged.
There’s More You Should Know About Steve Mostyn:
Mostyn has contributed millions of dollars to run negative advertising in Texas political campaigns against candidates who oppose lawsuit abuse. He is the president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) and lobbies for legislation that will overturn lawsuit reforms and increase opportunities to sue.
Q: What do you call a lawyer with an I.Q. of 50?
He’s the trial lawyer Republican Gov. Rick Perry loves to hate: Steve Mostyn, from the small East Texas town of Whitehouse, founder of one of the state’s largest plaintiffs’ firms, single biggest political donor in the 2010 state elections, top financier of lost Democratic causes.
Mostyn gave about $10 million in 2010, much of it aimed at defeating Perry and nearly all of it going to Democrats. About the only thing he has to show for it now, though, is the ire of a powerful — and, in Mostyn’s words, “vindictive” — Texas governor and possible presidential candidate. In the marathon lawmaking session that just ended, a Perry-versus-Mostyn fight concluded with the trial lawyer on the losing end of an argument over how much money attorneys like him could make from storm insurance claims.
Q: What would happen if you lock a zombie in a room full of lawyers?
A: He would starve to death.
Q: How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?
A: His lips are moving.
Q: What’s the difference between a lawyer and a vulture?
A: A lawyer can take off his wingtips.
In a print ad published in 41 newspapers across the state of Texas on October 5th, the so-called Back to Basics political action committee (PAC) claims that “the Texas unemployment rate has even grown more than the nation’s as a whole.” This is the same charge that Democratic State Representative Jim Dunnam made at a hearing on September 27, 2010 when I testified as Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission before the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding. I explained then to Chairman Dunnam that he was making a faulty comparison and that, in point of fact, the Texas economy was faring better than any other large labor market state and the nation at large.
Had the anti-Perry PAC bothered to consult with the Texas Workforce Commission, it would have discovered that the data being used by Representative Dunnam – which it parrots in order to make the Texas economy look worse than the national economy – made for a misleading and disingenuous comparison.
To use an analogy, what Representative Dunnam and the Back to Basics PAC are attempting to do is to compare apples and oranges. They take data from a period from February 2009 through August 2010, which purports to show that the Texas unemployment rate grew faster than the national rate (even though the Texas unemployment rate was—and remains—much lower than the national unemployment percentage).
At the hearing chaired by Representative Dunnam, the Director of our Labor Market and Career Information (LMCI) division and I both pointed out that this was a distorted comparison. If one is truly serious about comparing the impact of the recession on Texas versus the nation at large, there is a much better way to go about it to get an accurate comparison.
Here is what LMCI Director Richard Froeschle has to say on the subject:
“If one feels compelled to compare changes in the unemployment rate between the U.S. and Texas to illustrate the impact of the recession, the better metric might be the increase from the last pre-recession month of each area to the present time period. Thus, the difference in the November 2007 (last month pre-recession) unemployment rate of 4.7% in the U.S. to the August 2010 rate of 9.6% is 4.9 percentage points or an increase in the rate of 104.2 percent. For Texas, the last pre-recession month was September 2008 in which the unemployment rate was 5.2%. The August 2010 rate in Texas was 8.3%, which represents an increase of 3.1 percentage points or an increase in the rate of 59.6 percent. This clearly shows that from an unemployment rate perspective Texas has felt a lesser impact from the recession than did the nation as a whole. One could argue that there must be a whole lot more right going on in Texas than in the nation as a whole for us to experience this lesser impact from the recession.”
These clearly are difficult economic times. America faces its most serious economic crisis since the time of the Great Depression, and Texas has felt the adverse effects of this nasty, national recession. Nonetheless, to try to claim that the Texas economy is doing worse than the nation as a whole is pure demagoguery and doesn’t stand up to any serious evidentiary test. Rich Froeschle has it right when he says, “…there must be a whole lot more right going on in Texas than in the nation as a whole….”