U-Anchor Advertising, Inc. v. Burt

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Citation553 S.W.2d 760
Docket NumberNo. B-6516,U-ANCHOR,B-6516
PartiesADVERTISING, INC., Petitioner, v. N. H. BURT, d/b/a Granot Lodge, Respondent.
Decision Date13 July 1977

Page 760

553 S.W.2d 760
N. H. BURT, d/b/a Granot Lodge, Respondent.
No. B-6516.
Supreme Court of Texas.
July 13, 1977.
Rehearing Denied July 27, 1977.

Page 761

B. Hal Miner, Amarillo, for petitioner.

Kenneth A. Back, Amarillo, for respondent.

STEAKLEY, Justice.

This is a suit for breach of contract. It was instituted in the 47th District Court of Potter County, Texas by U-Anchor Advertising, Inc., Petitioner, against N. H. Burt, doing business as Granot Lodge, Respondent. U-Anchor is a Texas corporation domiciled in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas. Burt is a resident of Clinton, Custer County, Oklahoma. Citation was served upon the Secretary of State of Texas as the presumed agent of Burt for service of process pursuant to Article 2031b, Tex.Rev.Civ.Stat.Ann., the Texas "long-arm" statute. Burt entered a special appearance to contest the jurisdiction of the Texas court pursuant to Rule 120a of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The trial court sustained Burt's Motion to the Jurisdiction, and this was affirmed by the Court of Civil Appeals. It was the view of the court that while Burt was unquestionably doing business in Texas within the terms of Article 2031b, his contacts with Texas fell short of the requirements of due process. 544 S.W.2d 500. We affirm the judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals.

Certain additional facts bearing upon the question of jurisdiction appear undisputed. The written contract upon which suit was brought was executed by the parties in Clinton, Oklahoma. It resulted from solicitation by a salesman for U-Anchor who signed the contract for U-Anchor. The contract called for U-Anchor to place five advertising displays for Burt at various Oklahoma highway locations for a period of 36 months. Burt agreed to pay U-Anchor $80 monthly at its office in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas. U-Anchor constructed the signs in Amarillo and erected them at the Oklahoma locations. Burt mailed six and perhaps seven monthly payment checks to U-Anchor at its office in Amarillo, but he had no other contacts with Texas.

The controlling provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of Article 2031b are as follows:

Sec. 3. Any . . . non-resident natural person that engages in business in this State, irrespective of any Statute or law respecting designation or maintenance of resident agents, and does not maintain a place of regular business in this State or a designated agent upon whom service may be made upon causes of action arising out of such business done in this State, the act or acts of engaging in such business within this State shall be deemed equivalent to an appointment by such . . . non-resident natural person of the Secretary of State of Texas as agent upon whom service of process may be made in any action, suit or proceedings arising out of such business done in this State, wherein such . . . non-resident natural person is a party or is to be made a party.

Sec. 4. For the purpose of this Act, and without including other acts that may constitute doing business, any . . . non-resident natural person shall be deemed doing business in this State by entering into contracts by mail or otherwise with a resident of Texas to be performed in whole or in part by either party in this State, . . . (Italics are added for emphasis).

Page 762

Article 2031b provides that a non-resident entering into a contract with a Texas resident performable in part by either party in Texas shall be deemed to be doing business in Texas. The contract in question obligated Burt to perform his payment obligations at the office of U-Anchor in Amarillo, Texas, and thus he was "doing business" in Texas within the meaning of the statute. We agree that in this respect, as well as with respect to "other acts that may constitute doing business," Article 2031b reaches as far as the federal constitutional requirements of due process will permit. We let stand the statement in Hoppenfeld v. Crook, 498 S.W.2d 52 (Tex.Civ.App. Austin 1973, writ ref'd n. r. e.) "that the reach of Art. 2031b is limited only by the United States Constitution." See also National Truckers Service, Inc. v. Aero Systems, Inc., 480 S.W.2d 455 (Tex.Civ.App. Fort Worth 1972, writ ref'd n. r. e.). 1 The federal courts have similarly construed Article 2031b. See Product Promotions, Inc. v. Cousteau, 495 F.2d 483 (5th Cir. 1974), and the cases there cited. Furthermore, such a construction is desirable in that it allows the courts to focus on the constitutional limitations of due process rather than to engage in technical and abstruse attempts to consistently define "doing business." See Thode, In Personam Jurisdiction; Article 2031b, the Texas "Long Arm" Jurisdiction Statute; and the Appearance to Challenge Jurisdiction in Texas and Elsewhere, 42 Tex.L.Rev. 279, 307 (1964).

The question, then, becomes one of due process. In Cousteau, supra, the Fifth Circuit concluded that the relevant federal decisions established a dual test for determining whether a court may exercise its jurisdiction without depriving a non-resident defendant of due process of law: "First, 'there must be some minimum contact with the state which results from an affirmative act of the defendant.' Secondly, 'it must be fair and reasonable to require the defendant to come into the state and defend the action.' " Cousteau, supra, at 494. See also Jetco Electronic Industries, Inc. v. Gardiner, 473 F.2d 1228 (5th Cir. 1973); 2 J. Moore, Moore's Federal Practice P 4.25(5) (1975). In O'Brien v. Lanpar Company, 399 S.W.2d 340...

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