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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Guadalupe Gonzalez Jr., lived with his wife, Jannete, and their children in Hidalgo County. Guadalupe Gonzalez was killed in an accident while working at a Reliant Energy power plant in Fort Bend County. Jannete Gonzalez initiated an estate administration proceeding in statutory probate court in Hidalgo County and was appointed dependent administrator of her husband’s estate. While the administration of the estate was pending, Gonzalez filed a wrongful death and survival action against Reliant in the Hidalgo County statutory probate court. Reliant moved to transfer venue of the wrongful death and survival case to a district court in Harris County, where its principal place of business is located. The probate court denied the motion. Meanwhile, Gonzalez filed an identical wrongful death and survival action in a Harris County district court and 10 days later filed a motion in the Hidalgo County probate court asking that court to transfer the Harris County suit to Hidalgo County and consolidate the two actions, citing former Texas Probate Code 5B. Reliant answered in the Harris County suit and applied for an anti-suit injunction, requesting that Gonzalez be enjoined from pursuing the wrongful death and survival action in Hidalgo County. Reliant argued that Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code 15.007 rendered venue of that suit improper in Hidalgo County and that the Harris County court had dominant jurisdiction over Gonzalez’s wrongful death and survival claims even though they were first filed and remained pending in Hidalgo County. Gonzalez filed an amended motion to transfer in Hidalgo County, informing the probate court of the impending anti-suit injunction hearing in Harris County. The Hidalgo County probate court then advanced its hearing on the motion to transfer to itself the Harris County suit so that its hearing would occur before the Harris County anti-suit injunction hearing. Reliant responded by moving for and obtaining a temporary restraining order in the Harris County court requiring Gonzalez to contact the Hidalgo County court and reschedule the hearing on the motion to transfer for a date after the anti-suit injunction hearing. In accordance with the Harris County district court’s temporary restraining order, Gonzalez filed a request in the Hidalgo County probate court to reschedule the transfer hearing. The probate court denied that request, as well as Reliant’s motion for a continuance, proceeded with its hearing, and granted Gonzalez’s motion to transfer her suit out of the Harris County district court and into the Hidalgo County probate court. The Hidalgo County probate court also denied Reliant’s motion to abate. The hearing on Reliant’s application for an anti-suit injunction went forward in the Harris County district court, and that court refused to grant injunctive relief. Reliant then initiated proceedings in two courts of appeals. It sought a writ of mandamus from the 13th Court of Appeals directing the Hidalgo County court to vacate its transfer order, and that request for relief was denied. Reliant also perfected an interlocutory appeal in the 1st Court of Appeals from the Harris County district court’s denial of temporary injunctive relief. One business day before the Hidalgo County wrongful death and survival case was set for trial, a divided court of appeals, sitting en banc, held that the Harris County district court had abused its discretion in denying Reliant’s request for an anti-suit injunction. The court of appeals remanded the case to the Harris County district court with instructions to enter a temporary injunction. In accordance with the court of appeals’ directive, the Harris County district court enjoined Gonzalez “from engaging in proceedings with respect to the wrongful death suit” pending in the Hidalgo County probate court. Gonzalez filed a motion for rehearing of the court of appeals’ decision and a separate interlocutory appeal of the district court’s injunction. The court of appeals, again sitting en banc and again divided, considered Gonzalez’s motion for rehearing and her interlocutory appeal at the same time, though it denied her motion to consolidate. The court of appeals denied Gonzalez’s motion for rehearing of its decision in Reliant’s appeal from the denial of injunctive relief, withdrew that opinion, and dismissed the first (Reliant’s) appeal. In the same opinion, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s order granting Reliant’s application for an anti-suit injunction, which had been issued in compliance with the court of appeals’ directive in the first interlocutory appeal. The court of appeals concluded that Texas Probate Code 5A gives the Hidalgo County statutory probate court concurrent jurisdiction with the Harris County district court over the wrongful death and survival suit at hand, but it also held that 5A does not “dispense with the requirement that proper venue must lie for a statutory probate court to exercise its concurrent jurisdiction.” Similarly, the court of appeals held that 5B of the Probate Code, which gives a statutory probate court discretionary authority to transfer to itself a cause of action in which a personal representative of an estate pending in that court is a party, does not dispense with the requirement that venue of the wrongful death and survival action must be proper in the probate court. The court rejected Gonzalez’s argument that the Hidalgo County probate court had dominant jurisdiction over the case, holding “it is axiomatic that a court cannot have”dominant jurisdiction’ if it does not have proper venue.” Finally, the court of appeals concluded that venue was improper in Hidalgo County due to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 15.007. HOLDING: Affirmed. The version of 5B that was in effect prior to the 2003 amendments applied to this suit, the court found. The accident that caused the death of Gonzalez’s husband occurred in Fort Bend County, and Reliant’s principal place of business was in Harris County. Accordingly, venue in Hidalgo County was not proper unless some provision of the Probate Code overrode 15.002 with respect to wrongful death and survival actions. The question the court answered was whether 5B of the Probate Code authorized the Hidalgo County statutory probate court’s transfer of the wrongful death case to itself from the Harris County district court despite 15.007 and the fact that venue of the suit was not otherwise proper in Hidalgo County. The court held that Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 15.007 prohibits such a transfer when there is a timely objection. The court found that Gonzalez’s main argument that 5B is not a venue provision and that 15.007 is therefore inapplicable because it governs only when there is a conflict between Chapter 15 and the venue provisions of the Probate Code was unpersuasive. Section 5B permitted a transfer. The venue statutes were revised in 1995 the same year 15.007 was added in an effort to reduce forum shopping. Section 15.007 thus evidences a policy choice by the Legislature in favor of ensuring that suits involving death, personal injury, and property damage are filed in accordance with Chapter 15′s venue statutes. Because Hidalgo County was not a county of proper venue for the wrongful death suit, the Hidalgo County statutory probate court erred in granting Gonzalez’s section 5B motion to transfer, and, in doing so, the probate court “actively interfered with the jurisdiction” of the Harris County court, the court concluded. Hidalgo County was not a proper forum for Gonzalez’s wrongful death suit, and the Hidalgo County statutory probate court therefore could not have acquired dominant jurisdiction over the suit even though it was first filed there, the court held. When a Texas trial court enjoined a party from proceeding with a suit in Illinois that paralleled the Texas action, this court observed in Golden Rule Insurance Co. v. Harper, 925 S.W.2d 649 (Tex. 1996), that an “anti-suit injunction is appropriate in four instances.” These were: 1. to address a threat to the court’s jurisdiction; 2. to prevent the evasion of important public policy; 3, to prevent a multiplicity of suits; or 4. to protect a party from vexatious or harassing litigation. In that case, the court further said that “[t]he party seeking the injunction must show that”a clear equity demands’ the injunction.” The court held in that case that an anti-suit injunction was improperly entered because “‘[a] single parallel proceeding in a foreign forum, however, does not constitute a multiplicity nor does it, in itself create a clear equity justifying an anti-suit injunction.’” Two facts distinguished this case from the facts in Golden Rule, the court held. First, the Hidalgo County probate court’s transfer order purported to interfere with the jurisdiction of the Harris County district court by directing the clerk of Harris County to remove the case from the docket altogether. In Golden Rule, allowing a suit to proceed in Illinois did not prevent the Texas court from going forward with the Texas action. Second, there was a clear equity in the interlocutory appeals in this case that was not present in Golden Rule, the court concluded. In the first interlocutory appeal, brought by Reliant, the court of appeals directed the trial court to enter an injunction. The trial court had no discretion to do otherwise unless circumstances had changed pending appeal or the court of appeals’ ruling was withdrawn or reversed. When Gonzalez subsequently appealed from the trial court’s dutiful entry of a temporary injunction, that did not moot her request for rehearing of the decision in the first (Reliant’s) interlocutory appeal. Gonzalez was entitled to a resolution of whether the trial court abused its discretion when it initially refused to enter an anti-suit injunction. The court found that this error was nevertheless harmless. OPINION: Owen, J., delivered the court’s opinion.

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