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Civil Litigation No. 01-02-00679-CV, 4/29/2003. Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: These are accelerated, interlocutory appeals concerning an application by Reliant Energy Inc. for an anti-suit injunction. Reliant argued that the Harris County district court abused its discretion in originally denying Reliant’s application for the anti-suit injunction because 1. Gonzalez engaged in inequitable conduct that vested dominant jurisdiction in the Harris County court; 2. Gonzalez’s conduct poses a threat to the dominant jurisdiction of the Harris County court; and 3. Gonzalez’s conduct violates Texas’ public policy against forum shopping. In another cause, Reliant asserts the same arguments in support of the trial court’s Sept. 6, 2002 order granting Reliant’s application for an anti-suit injunction. HOLDING: Gonzalez’s argument that Texas Probate Code ��5A and 5B establish “dominant jurisdiction” in the Hidalgo County statutory probate court and Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code �15.007 does not preempt these “jurisdictional” provisions of the Probate Code is based on the false assumption that ��5A and 5B somehow dispense with the requirement of proper venue. It ignores the fact that the basis for the Hidalgo County statutory probate court’s venue is �6 of the Probate Code. The argument focuses on dominant jurisdiction to the extent that it eclipses venue. However, it is axiomatic that a court cannot have “dominant jurisdiction” if it does not have proper venue. The focus in regard to �15.007 must be, as expressly stated, on venue not “dominant jurisdiction.” Here, based on �6 of the Probate Code, venue was proper in Hidalgo County for the underlying probate proceeding and, consequently, all suits and actions “appertaining to and incident” to the estate. If the Hidalgo County statutory probate court lacked the venue conferred on it by �6, it could not administer the estate, and, consequently, it could not hear all suits and actions “appertaining to and incident to” the estate. The court holds that �15.007 controls over �6 of the Probate Code, which established venue for the underlying probate proceeding and, consequently, all suits and actions “appertaining to and incident to” the deceased’s estate. The court further holds that ��5A and 5B of the Probate Code in no way limit the application of �15.007 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The court’s holdings are consistent with the underlying purpose of �15.007, which was enacted by the Texas Legislature in 1995. To hold otherwise would render �15.007 meaningless, and, under established rules of statutory construction, the court should not adopt a construction that would render a law absurd or meaningless. Thus, an anti-suit injunction was appropriate in this case to prevent the evasion of Texas’s important public policy against forum shopping. Because venue under Chapter 15 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code “controls” over the applicable venue provision – �6 – of the Probate Code, Harris County is the only county with proper venue of this case. Although the Hidalgo County statutory probate court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Harris County district court, the Hidalgo County statutory probate court is not a “proper forum” for this wrongful-death case, in light of Reliant’s assertion of its right to be sued in Harris County. The court holds that �15.007 precludes the transfer of this wrongful death suit from the Harris County district court to the Hidalgo County statutory probate court. Moreover, “a clear equity demands” an anti-suit injunction because Gonzalez filed the instant case in Harris County, asserting claims identical to those already made in the Hidalgo County statutory probate court, and then immediately requested the Hidalgo County statutory probate court to transfer this Harris County suit to itself. The Harris County district court, in its June 26, 2002, order, abused its discretion in initially denying Reliant’s application for an anti-suit injunction against the prosecution of the identical suit in the Hidalgo County statutory probate court. However, that initial order, appealed under cause No. 01-02-00679-CV, was implicitly superseded by the trial court’s subsequent Sept. 6, 2002, order granting the same application for an anti-suit injunction and is no longer subject to review. The court further holds, under cause No. 01-02-01054-CV, that the Harris County district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Reliant’s application for an anti-suit injunction on Sept. 6, 2002. Accordingly, under cause No. 01-02-01054-CV, the court affirms the Sept. 6, 2002, order of the Harris County district court granting Reliant’s application for an anti-suit injunction. OPINION: Jennings, J., writing for a majority of the en banc Court on rehearing of cause No. 01-02-00679-CV and on original submission of cause No. 01-02-01054-CV, joined by Chief Justice Radack and Justices Hedges, Nuchia and Alcala. CONCURRENCE: Keyes, J. “The dominant jurisdiction rule applies, however, only when both courts are proper forumsfor the suit. See Perry, 66 S.W.3d at 252. Here, because the venue provisions of the Probate Code are controlled by section 15.007 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the statutory probate court lacked the jurisdiction conferred on it by section 8(e) of the Probate Code to determine venue for proceedings related to estate proceedings. See First State Bank of Bedias, 685 S.W.2d at 735-36. Therefore, there is only one proper forum for Gonzalez’s wrongful death suit, the Harris County district court. Accordingly, I would hold that the Hidalgo County statutory probate court lacked adequate jurisdiction to provide the relief sought and that the Harris County district court initially abused its discretion when it denied Reliant’s application for an anti-suit injunction abating the Hidalgo County proceedings, and, in its subsequent order, properly granted the injunction.” DISSENT: Mirabal, J. “This case involves the jurisdiction of a “statutory” probate court. Because I believe the majority is incorrectly treating a “jurisdictional” statute as though it is a “venue” provision, I respectfully dissent.” DISSENT: Smith, Jr., J. “I join Justice Mirabal’s dissent, and I write separately to emphasize that, when the Legislature enacted sections 5A and 5B of the Probate Code, I believe it intended to place all matters “pertaining to and incidental to an estate” in the probate courts. I believe that, until now, all courts have agreed with this conclusion.”

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