in Houston, Texas
Former TWIA head Jim Oliver sues windstorm agency for severance pay, damages
Thursday, Sep 01, 2011, 11:17AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Jim Oliver, fired in March after 11 years as head of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, is suing the association for withholding from him at least 52 weeks of severance pay and insurance benefits.

Oliver’s suit, filed in Travis County District Court, also asks for an unspecified amount in damages for his lost income and attorney’s fees. Oliver’s annual salary at the time the association notified him he was being replaced was $330,812.

Texas Watchdog contacted and is awaiting response from Philip Durst, an Austin lawyer who filed the lawsuit.

The association’s decision to fire Oliver came in the midst of an investigation into the handling of insurance claims by homeowners and business owners in 14 coastal counties affected by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The Legislature at one point in its most recent session considered abolishing the quasi-government agency before passing a compromise bill blunting the ability of TWIA policyholders to sue the state and limiting the damages they could collect.

Legislators were particularly dismayed that the association’s handling of Hurricane Ike claims had resulted in lawsuits that cost the state at least $140 million in settlements.

Months before Oliver was fired, Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, a member of the House Insurance Committee, and Steve Mostyn, one of the lawyers representing many of the TWIA plaintiffs, fought in court over the release of documents shedding light on the settlements.

Taylor won the battle, at the same time defending the commissions his insurance company earned selling TWIA policies.

The documents also showed the Windstorm Insurance Association, its administration and its claims methods in a deeply unflattering light.
Texas Watchdog covered closely the unfolding TWIA drama. Click here to see Texas Watchdog's coverage.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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