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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:James Johnson filed a premises liability suit against Houston Welding Supply Company, and the trial court entered a default judgment for Johnson. Houston Welding appeals, arguing that service of process was faulty. It argues that the return of service failed to state that the petition was served with the citation. The citation states, “Attached is a copy of PLAINTIFF’S ORIGINAL PETITION,” but the return does not contain similar language. HOLDING:Reversed. The court points out that citations and returns “are not created equally.” A citation, prepared before service, provides certain information to an entity that has been sued, whereas a return is essentially the serving officer’s report of what he or she did. It constitutes prima facie evidence of the facts recounted therein. The court thus concludes that the fact that the citation stated that the petition was attached to it cannot cure the fact that the return does not demonstrate that a copy of the petition was served. The court rejects Johnson’s argument that a notation on the return stating, “Serving 1 copy Y $50.00″ has any bearing on the sufficiency of the return. The notation begs the questions: a copy of what? The court also rejects Johnson’s argument that Houston Welding had actual knowledge of the suit. The court points out that it is well established in Texas that, absent proper service (or waiver thereof), actual notice of a lawsuit is not sufficient to confer jurisdiction on a court to render default judgment. “The face of the record does not affirmatively show strict compliance with the rules of service of process; thus, the default judgment against Houston Welding must be reversed.” OPINION:Hedges, C.J.; Hedges, Hudson and Seymore, JJ. DISSENT:Seymore, J. “I would hold that the record, as a whole, including the petition, citation and return, supports [Johnson's] assertion that [Houston Welding] was properly served with process.”

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