Since 1985, the test for whether a writ of mandamus will issue in connection with a trial court’s refusal to grant a plea in abatement under the doctrine of dominant jurisdiction has required proof of an active interference by one court with the jurisdiction of another court. The loosening of mandamus standards does not appear to have changed that requirement. The Texarkana Court of Appeals reaffirmed that rule in In re Martin.
The underlying dispute involves a fight between brothers Scott Martin and Ruben Martin over a family-owned company, Martin Resource Management Corporation (M.R.M.C.). Scott initially sued M.R.M.C and Ruben in Harris County, complaining of a wrongful issuance of shares of stock aimed at diluting Scott’s voting power. M.R.M.C. subsequently filed suit against Scott in Gregg County and eventually limited his claim to one for breach of fiduciary duty. Although some of the factual bases for alleged liability against Scott arose after the Harris County suit, the court of appeals points out that at least a part of the basis for the breach of fiduciary duty claim was the filing of the Harris County lawsuit.
The trial court issued a writ of injunction against Scott prohibiting Scott from taking any action to prevent M.R.M.C.’s prosecution of the Gregg County case or preventing M.R.M.C. from participating in the Gregg County trial. The injunction was apparently issued because of Scott’s attempts to have the Harris County court enjoin M.R.M.C. from proceeding with the Gregg County case. The court of appeals denied mandamus relief upon a finding that the trial court’s injunction against Scott does not amount to an interference on the part of the Gregg County Court with the Harris County trial court proceedings. The court’s opinion may be found here.