Apparently the Dallas Court of Appeals is Pro-choice. At least when it comes to a Plaintiff’s choice of forums.
In Signature Management Team, LLC v. Quixtar, Inc., the Dallas Court of Appeals determined that the trial court abused its discretion when it dismissed a case under the doctrine of forum non conveniens even though some substantive and probative evidence existed to support the court’s decision.
In the case, Signature Management Team, LLC, a Nevada LLC principally doing business in MIchigan, sued Quixtar, a Virginia corporation principally doing business in Michigan, in Texas for allegedly using its governing power to restrain Team’s business opportunities in Collin County.
Quixtar moved to dismiss under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, arguing that Michigan was a better forum to litigate the dispute. The trial court dismissed and Signature appealed the decision.
First, the court of appeals determined that Michigan was an available and adequate forum to try the case. The court, however, later found that Quixtar had little evidence to support the private interest factors (ability to compel witnesses, cost of witnesses to attend trial, and access to proof) and that public interest factors (burden on citizens of forum state, burden on trial court, and general interest in localized controversies) favored Texas as much as Michigan. Still, there was some substantive and probative evidence to support the trial court’s decision.
So then why did the court of appeals decide the trial judge abused his discretion?
The Court reiterated that a Plaintiff’s choice of forum controls unless evidence shows the private-interest and public interest factors strongly favor dismissal.
Just by looking at the facts, Quixtar needed significantly more evidence to justify its motion to dismiss. For example, Quixtar didn’t name a single witness in Michigan that was unwilling or financially unable to travel for Texas for the case. Further, Quixtar did not provide a reason why the public’s interest would be better served by trying the case in Michigan. So what would be unfair about trying the case in Texas, where the injury allegedly occurred?
The opinion can be found here.