310 S.W.3d 199 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2010), 05-08-00987-CV, 2007 East Meadows, L.P. v. RCM Phoenix Partners, L.L.C.

Docket Nº:05-08-00987-CV.
Citation:310 S.W.3d 199
Opinion Judge:FILLMORE, Justice.
Party Name:2007 EAST MEADOWS, L.P., Appellant, v. RCM PHOENIX PARTNERS, L.L.C., Appellee.
Attorney:Kenneth B. Chaiken, Chaiken & Chaiken, P.C., Dallas, TX, for Appellant. John W. Slates, Gardere Wynne Sewell, LLP, Dallas, TX, for Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before Justices MORRIS, O'NEILL and FILLMORE.
Case Date:April 14, 2010
Court:Court of Appeals of Texas
 
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310 S.W.3d 199 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2010)

2007 EAST MEADOWS, L.P., Appellant,

v.

RCM PHOENIX PARTNERS, L.L.C., Appellee.

No. 05-08-00987-CV.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

April 14, 2010

Rehearing Overruled May 18, 2010.

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Kenneth B. Chaiken, Chaiken & Chaiken, P.C., Dallas, TX, for Appellant.

John W. Slates, Gardere Wynne Sewell, LLP, Dallas, TX, for Appellee.

Before Justices MORRIS, O'NEILL and FILLMORE.

OPINION

FILLMORE, Justice.

Appellant 2007 East Meadows, L.P. filed suit in Texas against appellee RCM Phoenix Partners, L.L.C. RCM Phoenix filed a special appearance contesting the trial court's jurisdiction. East Meadows appeals the trial court's order granting the special appearance. We affirm the trial court's order.

Background

This lawsuit arises out of a Purchase and Sale Agreement (Agreement) by and between RCM Phoenix and Eureka Holdings Acquisitions, L.P. for transfer of ownership of the Phoenix Apartments located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Seller RCM Phoenix is a Connecticut limited liability company having its principal office and place of business in Connecticut. Purchaser Eureka Holdings is a Texas entity. The First Amendment to the Agreement references assignment of Eureka Holdings' rights under the Agreement to East Meadows. East Meadows is an Indiana limited partnership with its principal place of business in Dallas, Texas.

Sale of the Phoenix Apartments property was not completed. East Meadows filed suit against RCM Phoenix in Dallas, Texas. The claims raised by East Meadows were for declaratory judgment, breach of contract, specific performance, common law and statutory fraud, and constructive trust.

RCM Phoenix filed a special appearance. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted RCM Phoenix's special appearance and dismissed East Meadows' lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court did not file findings of fact or conclusions of law. East Meadows filed this appeal.

Standard of Review

Whether a court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant is a question of law, and thus we review de novo the trial court's determination of a special appearance.

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Moki Mac River Expeditions v. Drugg, 221 S.W.3d 569, 574 (Tex.2007); BMC Software Belgium, N.V. v. Marchand, 83 S.W.3d 789, 793 (Tex.2002). When, as here, the trial court does not file findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of its special appearance ruling, we infer all facts necessary to support the judgment and supported by the evidence. Moki Mac, 221 S.W.3d at 574 (citing BMC Software, 83 S.W.3d at 795).

In Personam Jurisdiction

Texas courts may assert in personam jurisdiction over a nonresident if (1) the Texas long-arm statute authorizes the exercise of jurisdiction, and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction comports with federal and state constitutional due process guarantees. Retamco Operating, Inc. v. Republic Drilling Co., 278 S.W.3d 333, 337 (Tex.2009). The long-arm statute's broad language allows Texas courts to " reach as far as the federal constitutional requirements of due process will allow." Moki Mac, 221 S.W.3d at 575 (quoting Guardian Royal Exch. Assurance, Ltd. v. English China Clays, P.L.C., 815 S.W.2d 223, 226 (Tex.1991)). Under constitutional due process analysis, personal jurisdiction is achieved " when the nonresident defendant has established minimum contacts with the forum state, and the exercise of jurisdiction comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Moki Mac, 221 S.W.3d at 575 (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945)). The purpose of minimum contacts analysis is to protect a nonresident defendant from being haled into court when its relationship with the forum state is too attenuated to support jurisdiction. Am. Type Culture Collection, Inc. v. Coleman, 83 S.W.3d 801, 806 (Tex.2002). " Significant contacts suggest that the defendant has taken advantage of forum-related benefits, while minor ones imply that the forum itself was beside the point." Spir Star AG v. Kimich, 310 S.W.3d 868, 872 (Tex.2010). Only if minimum contacts are established does the court consider the second prong of the constitutional due process analysis-whether maintenance of the action offends traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. See Clark v. Noyes, 871 S.W.2d 508, 520 (Tex.App.-Dallas 1994, no pet.).

A defendant's contacts with a forum can give rise to either specific or general jurisdiction. BMC Software, 83 S.W.3d at 795-96. On appeal, East Meadows asserts specific jurisdiction as the basis for personal jurisdiction over RCM Phoenix. Specific jurisdiction is dispute-specific and it attaches when the plaintiff's cause of action arises out of or relates to the nonresident defendant's contacts with the forum state. Conner v. ContiCarriers & Terminals, Inc., 944 S.W.2d 405, 410 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1997, no writ). In a specific jurisdiction analysis, we focus on the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation. Retamco, 278 S.W.3d at 338. Specific jurisdiction arises when (1) the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum state, and (2) the cause of action arises from or is related to those contacts or activities. Id. In determining whether a defendant has purposefully availed itself of a forum, we consider three factors. First, only the defendant's contacts with the forum are relevant, not the unilateral activity of another party or third person. Id. at 339. Second, the contacts must be purposeful rather than random, fortuitous, or attenuated. Id. Third, the defendant must seek some benefit, advantage, or profit by availing itself of the jurisdiction. Id. What is important is the quality and nature of the defendant's contacts with the forum state rather than their number. Id.

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Burden of Proof

The plaintiff bears the initial burden to plead sufficient allegations to bring a nonresident defendant within the reach of the Texas long-arm statute...

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