Whether a defendant can be sued in the courts of a particular state depends upon the defendant’s presence in the state.  If the defendant lives there, or in the case of an entity, has its principal place of business there or is incorporated there, the defendant has availed itself of the state’s jurisdiction and may

Ordinarily, when evaluating the contacts of distinct legal entities, the contacts of parent corporations and subsidiaries are evaluated separately for jurisdictional purposes, unless the corporate veil is pierced.  On first glance, that doesn’t appear to be what happened in Cornerstone Healthcare Group Holding, Inc. v. Nautic Management VI, L.P.  The key to understanding this opinion

The Fourteenth District Court of Appeals in Houston has held that a corporation’s jurisdictional contacts could not be imputed to a nonresident that succeeded to the corporation’s contract rights.

Under the core facts in Motor Components LLC v. Devon Energy Corp., Pennzoil Company, a Delaware corporation located in Texas, contracted with its subsidiary, Purolator Products Company, a Delaware corporation located in Oklahoma.  Under the contract, Pennzoil agreed to indemnify Purolator for certain remediation costs of Purolator’s real property located in New York and Michigan.  Motor Components, which is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New York, succeeded to Purolator’s rights under the contract by transactions not described in the appellate record.  Motor Components subsequently invoked certain provisions of the contract and called upon Pennzoil’s successor-in-interest, Devon Energy Corporation, to respond.  Devon is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Oklahoma.  Devon then filed a declaratory judgment action in Texas and sought personal jurisdiction over Motor Components.


Continue Reading Personal Jurisdiction in Contract Case with Successor in Interest

Personal Jurisdiction challenges is one area of the law that I’ve found interesting since I took Dean Frank Newton’s conflicts of law class in law school.  Recently there have been a number of personal jurisdiction opinions that have come out.   I’ve summarized what I see as the highlights of some of those cases below:

The Dallas Court of Appeals recently all but held that a non-resident officer and director of a Texas corporation is subejct to personal jurisdiction in Texas.  After reviewing the law on personal jurisdiction, the court decided that there was no general jurisdiction over the defendants who were California residents. 

Turning to specific jurisdiction, the court

The San Antonio Court of Appeals has held that a party challenging a default judgment may well risk losing the opportunity to challenge the exercise of personal jurisdiction over him unless special precautions are taken.

In Boyd v. Kobierowski, Kobierowski, a Texas resident, sued Boyd, a California resident, in Texas for breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation and DTPA violations.  All causes of action arose from the sale of a vehicle  Boyd sold to Kobierowski. 

Boyd did not answer the suit and Kobierowski took a default judgment against Boyd.  Boyd subsequently filed a restricted appeal to challenge the default judgment.  He prevailed on appeal because of a defect in personal service.  See Appeal No. 04-06-0041-CV

On remand, Kobierowski repeatedly tried to get Boyd to answer the suit, but Boyd did not respond.  Kobierowski then took a second default judgment.  Boyd subsequently filed a special appearance and a motion for new trial subject to the special appearance.  The trial court denied the special appearance, but granted the motion for new trial.  In a second (interlocutory) appeal, Boyd argued that it was error to deny his special appearance.


Continue Reading Waiver of Special Appearances in Default Challenges

Assume a foreign insurance company provides auto insurance cards that specifically cover accidents both in the home country and the United States.  If a car accident occurs in Texas, can the insurer avoid personal jurisdiction in the suit by alleging that it did not purposefully avail itself to Texas?

This was the issue before the Dallas Court of Appeals in Assurances Generales Banque Nationale v. Dhalla.


Continue Reading In case you’re ever in a car accident with someone insured by a foreign insurance company…