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Civil Litigation Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Lonnie W. Butler Jr. appeals the dismissal, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, of his claims against Continental Airlines Inc. In a prior lawsuit (Butler I), Butler sued Continental for copying and using in its computer reservation system macros he created without compensating him. The 1st Court of Appeals ultimately affirmed the summary judgment in that case on Butler’s fraud claim and dismissed his remaining claims (for conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, constructive trust, misappropriation of trade secrets, estoppel/quasi-estoppel and quantum meruit) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because they were either preempted by, or arose under, the Federal Copyright Act. See Butler v. Continental Airlines, Inc., 31 S.W.3d 642 (Tex. App. � Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, pet. denied). Butler then filed suit in federal District Court (Butler II) for Continental’s unauthorized use of the macros. The federal court dismissed Butler’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that some of the claims had been preempted and abolished by the Act and that those remaining did not arise under the act. Butler did not appeal this decision but instead filed the present state court action, again asserting the claims that the federal court had held did not arise under the act. Continental filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over those claims in accordance with the decision in Butler I. The trial court granted this motion and dismissed the suit with prejudice. HOLDINGAffirmed. Butler’s sole issue on appeal contends that the trial court erred in dismissing this case on the grounds that: 1. the dismissal in Butler I has no res judicata effect because it was not a determination on the merits; and 2. for him to be deprived, through no fault of his own, of any hearing of the merits of his claims violates his due process rights under the U.S. and Texas constitutions and the open courts provision of the Texas constitution, particularly where a federal court, as final arbiter of federal subject matter jurisdiction, determined, contrary to Butler I, that the state courts do have jurisdiction over his claims. Although a dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction does not preclude a party from litigating the merits of the same cause of action in a court of competent jurisdiction, it is res judicata as to the issue of whether the first court had jurisdiction. Butler has cited no authority holding that the due process doctrine overrides the application of res judicata. Therefore, he has provided no basis to conclude that the trial court erred in dismissing this case. OPINION: Edelman, C.J.; before Brister, C.J., Edelman and Seymore, JJ. DISSENT: Brister, C.J. “The issue before us is not which court was right, but whether Butler can be shut out of a forum by the conflicting denials. I agree with the Court that a dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction normally should preclude litigation of that jurisdictional question again; if the rule were otherwise, the same claim could be filed repeatedly and never decided finally. “But the Restatement recognizes a limitation to the application of res judicata when inconsistent final judgments are rendered: “When in two actions inconsistent final judgments are rendered, it is the later, not the earlier, judgment that is accorded conclusive effect in a third action under the rules of res judicata. “As the Restatement explains, the policy considerations supporting res judicata are not strong when the party claiming it has taken an inconsistent position in intervening litigation. “That is exactly what Continental did here. After urging the First Court to hold the federal courts had exclusive jurisdiction of Butler’s claims, Continental urged exactly the opposite when he filed them there. In accordance with the Restatement, I would hold that preclusive effect should be given only to the later ruling � the federal court’s decision that Butler’s claims belonged in state court. Because the Court holds otherwise, I respectfully dissent.”

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