Thu December 12, 2013
Texas Investigating Racist Emails In Valley Insurance Case
An attorney representing the Brownsville Independent School District in a lawsuit against the state has uncovered a string of racist emails between leading state officials, and officials at the Texas Department of Insurance say they are investigating the complainant.
Brownsville ISD is suing the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) after the quasi-state agency allegedly failed to pay a series of claims to Brownsville ISD aftert Hurricane Dolly in 2008 damaged school district property. Houston attorney Steve Mostyn is representing the school district, and uncovered dozens of emails that contained offensive language during his investigation of the claims.
Mostyn explained, “These emails met search criteria for terms regarding claims handling, and so when I was going through them one night, what showed up was pretty shocking.”
Mostyn found racist comments from the Vice President of Claims at TWIA, the head of Catastrophe Claims and a Claims supervisor about people asking to be paid. “N-word, sand-N, spick... horrible words, rag-head," he elaborated. "Terms [that] I would have to hide from my children while working on my laptop from home."
Mostyn said the emails also show TWIA manager Bill Knarr based whether he paid claims upon a person’s race.
“We find an email where they actually did not pay a person’s claim," Mostyn said, "there’s one where they say Mexicans are trying to 'scam the system.'" That email came from the Head of Catastrophe Claims, who was also in charge in the Brownsville ISD case.
The Department of Insurance oversees the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and is now investigating the additional complaint related to the emails.
Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins said, “TDI has taken a leading role against race-based insurance practices, so when we receive a complaint alleging discrimination of any kind we investigate it.”
Hagins couldn’t comment on the details of this investigation. Mostyn said he filed an additional lawsuit against TWIA because of the controversial emails.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The embedded documents included with this story contain language that many will find offensive.