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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Eva and William Simpson sued Shell Oil and several other companies in Orange County. They alleged William developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia from occupational exposure to benzene produced and distributed by the defendants. They filed another suit five months later in Jefferson County. Shell moved to transfer venue to Harris County, its principal place of business, followed by the other defendants. In response to the motion to transfer venue, the Simpsons asked that their two suits be consolidated. The Simpsons did not serve the defendants in the Jefferson County suit. Meanwhile, the Orange County court granted the motion to change venue and transferred the case to Harris County. The Simpsons asked the Harris County court to non-suit the case. Though the Harris County court denied the motion, the 1st Court of Appeals granted a writ of mandamus compelling dismissal, which the Harris County court did. The Texas Supreme Court denied the defendants’ writ of mandamus to reinstate the suit. The defendants filed motions to transfer the Jefferson County case to Harris County, which the Jefferson County court denied. The defendants now file for a writ of mandamus in this court of appeals, arguing that once the Orange County court agreed to the venue change to Harris County, the Jefferson County court no longer had discretion to hold on to the case. HOLDING:Writ conditionally granted. The court first notes that under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 87.5, once venue has been transferred to a proper county, no further motions to change venue may be filed. A ruling granting transfer could be appealed after a trial, but once the transferring court makes the decision to transfer, it cannot make a new determination of venue. The court finds that although a writ of mandamus is not available for reviewing whether venue is proper in a particular county, it is available when reviewing whether the correct venue procedure was employed. Here, the Jefferson County court’s decision not to honor a previously established venue change was not procedurally sound. “The trial court here has clearly violated the required procedure for venue determination, and refused to enforce the prior venue order of another judge. If a trial court circumvents the venue-determination procedure by permitting a party to file multiple suits and selectively non-suit, then the carefully crafted venue procedure is unenforceable and ineffectual.” OPINION:McKeithen, C.J.; McKeithen, C.J., Burgess and Gaultney, JJ. DISSENT:Burgess, J. Citing In Re: Masonite Corp., 997 S.W.2d 194 (Tex. 1999), the dissent would require “exceptional circumstances” before agreeing that mandamus was the proper method for challenging the Jefferson County court’s order. “While I do not concede the Jefferson County judge erred, even if he did, mandamus does not lie; one erroneous ruling, even a clearly erroneous one, which results in an erroneous trial and ultimate reversal does not establish ‘exceptional circumstances’ as our Supreme Court has enunciated them.” The dissent also notes that some other Texas appeals courts have imposed the “exceptional circumstances” standard.

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