Monday, August 18, 2008

Does a single tortious act confer special jurisdiction?

Retamco Operating, Inc. v. Republic Drilling Co.,

No. 07-0599

Scheduled for oral argument before the Texas Supreme Court on Sep. 11, 2008


Republic Drilling Co. v. Retamco Operating, Inc.,
No. 04-06-00727-CV (Tex. App.- San Antonio, March 28, 2008, pet. granted)(Opinion by Justice Karen Angelini) (denial of out-of-state defendant's special appearance reversed)

FROM THE OPINION: This is an interlocutory appeal from an order denying the special appearance of Republic Drilling Corp. ("Republic"), a nonresident defendant. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(a)(7) (Vernon Supp. 2005). We reverse the trial court's order."

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"Here, the record reflects that Republic is a nonresident corporation, providing construction and drilling services outside the State of Texas; it does not have a place of business in Texas; it does not maintain an agent in Texas; it does not have an office in Texas; it does not advertise in Texas; it does not own personal property in Texas; it does not provide any services or work in Texas; it does not have a telephone number in Texas; it does no marketing or selling of any kind in Texas; it has not engaged in exploration, production, financing, consulting, or marketing of oil and gas properties in Texas; it does not have any partnerships or joint ventures with anybody in Texas; it has never performed operations in Texas; and, it has never done business in Texas.

The only "contact" Republic appears to have had with the State of Texas was the single transaction wherein Republic acquired non-operating oil and gas leases in Fayette County. (3) However, unlike Trigeant, the present transaction was executed not in Texas but in California and Colorado, in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to "purposefully direct" contact outside the forum state. Trigeant, 183 S.W.3d at 727. Further, Retamco does not direct this court to any other contacts that would evidence a showing that Republic's activities were "purposefully directed" to this forum, nor does our review of the record disclose any such contacts. Guardian Royal Exchange, 815 S.W.2d at 223. And while Retamco relies on Trigeant in support of its position that the single contact by Republic in receiving a fraudulent transfer of oil and gas leases is sufficient to confer specific jurisdiction in the present case, we are mindful that Michiana directs that the purposeful-availment standard is not met when the sole contact takes place outside the forum state. Michiana, 168 S.W.3d at 787."

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