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BISD Alleges Racism in Suit against TWIA

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Posted: Dec 11, 2013 9:38 PM

Updated: Dec 11, 2013 10:42 PM

BROWNSVILLE - Attorneys for Brownsville Independent School District say a culture of racism led insurance companies to ignore major claims resulting from Hurricane Dolly.

The allegations are part a lawsuit against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. The attorneys said they discovered a series of racist e-mails that back up those claims.

The offensive e-mails are from management to employees at TWIA. The association is made up of companies that handle wind insurance claims along the Texas Coast.

Officials with TWIA said the racist e-mails have nothing to do with the way it handled BISD's insurance claim.

BISD said the e-mails prove that not even state officials can be trusted to regulate those companies.

Hurricane Dolly damaged numerous schools in the district. BISD filed a $26-million lawsuit against the association.

"They didn't even bother to look at most of these schools. They haven't requested one time to go back out and look at the campus," BISD Attorney Steve Mostyn said.

Mostyn said the TWIA has not paid the district a single penny.

Mostyn requested copies of internal e-mails.

"Clearly racist comments or remarks in there," he said.

He said some of the e-mails are jokes and others are simply opinions. One says the "redneck girl shoots the Mexican." Anther one, involving a claim from a displaced homeowner, says: "Mexican working the system ... Mexican get no more money."

"That was a rather aha moment for me, that this was the way in which they felt towards Hispanic folks," Mostyn said.

BISD officials said the district's student population is 99 percent Hispanic.

Mostyn said that played a role in the association's decision to deny the claim.

"They ignored it. They didn't care. They walked away because those folks don't need to be taken care of," he said.

The TWIA filed a response to Mostyn's request for more documents.

"TWIA disavows any such behavior," the response said.

They said the racist terminology or viewpoints play no roles in decisions over claims.

Mostyn said the Texas Department of Insurance needs to bring in someone from outside the agency to investigate the TWIA.

Officials with the TDI said they will follow normal procedures in reviewing the allegations.

Mostyn expects the school district's case against the TWIA to go to court in Brownsville in 2014.

Topics: texas windstorm insurance association, bisd, brownsville, texas department of insurance

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