Democratic megadonor and noted Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn died Wednesday after “a sudden onset and battle with a mental health issue,” his wife, Amber Mostyn, announced Thursday.
Mostyn’s suicide at age 46 shocked legal and political circles, with friends and supporters recalling his passion for taking on large insurance companies and corporations, his advocacy for children with special needs and his generosity toward philanthropic and political causes.
“Steve Mostyn will forever be remembered as a tireless and fearless fighter for justice, in and outside the courtroom,” said state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
A memorial service will be held at a date still to be announced, according to Amber Mostyn’s written statement, which said she and their two children were heartbroken to confirm reports of Steve Mostyn’s death.
“Steve was a beloved husband and devoted father who adored his children and never missed any of their sporting activities. He was a true friend, and a faithful fighter for those who did not have a voice,” she said. “If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide, or experiencing a health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right now.”
Steve and Amber Mostyn have donated millions of dollars to Democratic candidates, causes and political action committees — advocacy that was fueled by the earnings from their Houston law firm, which focuses on insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits in a practice that began in Texas and expanded nationwide.
In legal circles, Steve Mostyn’s fame grew after Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008, when he sued insurers on behalf of hundreds of homeowners who argued that their damage claims had been underpaid.
Mostyn’s tactics became exhibit A for tort-reform advocates, particularly Texans for Lawsuit Reform, in the fight to pass a series of laws reining in litigation opportunities and damage awards — with the latest taking effect Sept. 1 to cut penalties insurance companies must pay for late payments if they’re sued by a property owner.
The Mostyns also became known for the Mostyn Moreno Educational Foundation, a nonprofit they created to improve the lives of children with special needs.
A message posted on the law firm’s website Thursday invited clients and friends to support the foundation and the Special Olympics of Texas “in honor of Steve’s life and legacy.”
Former state Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat whose losing 2014 campaign for governor received more than $2 million from the Mostyns and the Mostyn Law Firm, said she was heartbroken by the news.
“Texas has lost an extraordinary person. Steve was a committed and effective fighter for justice, a wonderful husband, father and friend. He leaves behind a lasting impact on everyone who’s life he touched,” Davis said.
The Mostyns were particularly active in the 2012 national elections, donating $5.2 million to political action committees backing President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress, establishing the couple as among the nation’s top 20 donors to political causes that year, according to the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity.
An additional $2.4 million from the couple went to Democratic candidates for the Texas House and Senate between 2009-12, the center said.
In a September interview with the Texas Tribune, Steve Mostyn said he and his wife planned to slow their Democratic fundraising “a little bit” while trying to encourage other donors to step up. “We’ll be there to do our part for sure, and other folks have got to do their part,” he said.
Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, called Steve Mostyn a giant.
“He was the epitome of a Texas Democrat — big, bold, fearless and caring. He dedicated his professional and personal life to fighting for the little guy,” Hinojosa said. “Millions of Texans live better lives because of the advocacy, philanthropy and sheer will power of Steve Mostyn.”