Filing a claim in one state rather than another may have a number of benefits for a Texas plaintiff, including convenience and more favorable laws. In a recent Texas Supreme Court decision, the court explained why a case arising from an accidental death in Mississippi could be filed in Texas.
In that case, a man was killed while he was repairing his tractor at his house in Mississippi. The tractor was sold in Mississippi, and the accident occurred in Mississippi, but the man’s son lived in Texas and filed a negligence and product liability claim against the tractor company in Texas. The company moved to dismiss the claim based on forum non conveniens. The company argued that Mississippi was a more convenient and appropriate forum to have the claim heard. The man’s estate was there, and there were other connections to the accident there, since the man lived in Mississippi, bought the tractor in Mississippi, and died in Mississippi.
Forum Non Conveniens
Forum non conveniens allows a court to decline jurisdiction if another more suitable forum exists that is more just and convenient. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.051, a court can decline to exercise jurisdiction under the doctrine of forum non conveniens if it is “in the interest of justice and for the convenience of the parties.”
Under the statute, a court must consider several factors, including whether another forum can exercise jurisdiction over the claim, whether and to what extent an injury or death resulted from acts within the state, and whether the present forum would cause a substantial injustice to the moving party. The statute provides an exception for plaintiffs that are residents of Texas. Under that exception, a court cannot dismiss a plaintiff’s claim if the plaintiff is a resident of Texas or a derivative claimant of a resident of Texas. Yet it provides specific definitions of what constitutes a plaintiff under the statute.
The Court’s Decision
The Texas Supreme Court held that the Texas-residency exception to the forum non conveniens doctrine applied to some of the claims in the case. The court determined that under the statute’s definition of plaintiff, the son was not a plaintiff as a representative of his father’s estate, but he and his brother were plaintiffs in their wrongful death claims. Since they were residents of Texas, they fell under the Texas-resident exception, and Texas had jurisdiction over those claims.
Contact a San Antonio Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured, it is important to get knowledgeable advice about your options. At Carabin Shaw, we aggressively represent individuals across Texas who have suffered catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths. We have over 200 years of combined experience in Texas personal injury and wrongful death law and are ready to help clients find solutions to the challenges that arise after being involved in a serious accident. Carabin Shaw was founded 25 years ago to fight for the rights of accident victims. Call us at 1-800-862-1260 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.
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