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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Vincente Dominguez-Mendoza was driving a car full of his family members in Mexico when the car crashed. All, including Dominguez-Mendoza, were Mexican nationals. The family members sued Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., saying a faulty tire led to the accident, as well as Dominguez-Mendoza, in Texas federal district court. In granting Cooper Tire’s motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens reasons, the district court did not first decide whether it had subject matter over the controversy. The plaintiffs appeal. They argue that the district court should have first decided whether it had jurisdiction before proceeding to the issue of forum non conveniens. On the other hand, Cooper Tire argues that under Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574 (1999), forum non conveniens is a “non merits issue” that can be decided as a threshold issue. HOLDING:Vacated and remanded. In Ruhrgas, the U.S. Supreme Court held only that, while federal courts are constitutionally required to satisfy themselves of their jurisdiction before they consider the merits of a case, the district court there did not abuse its discretion in evaluating personal jurisdiction before it reached subject matter jurisdiction. Ruhrgas should not be stretched to encompass “non-merits” issues other than jurisdiction, such as forum non conveniens, the court says. The court finds that, even if it could read Ruhrgas as broadly as urged by Cooper, the court is satisfied, based on its own precedent, that forum non conveniens questions are not completely separate from the merits of the action. “Thus, we hold that the district court erred in dismissing the case on forum non conveniens grounds without first determining whether it had subject matter jurisdiction. . . . In so holding, we disagree with other Circuits that have addressed this issue, namely the 2nd Circuit and the DC Circuit.” The district court must look at the particular facts of the case to determine if the forum is the proper one. OPINION:Per curiam; Reavley, Davis and Wiener, JJ.

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