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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In late 2004, CB Parkway Business Center VI Ltd. and Trammell Crow Company No. 43 Ltd. (collectively, CB) purchased approximately 350 acres of land located in the city of Dallas. The property, however, was connected to Dallas by only a narrow right-of-way and was almost completely surrounded by the city of Coppell and the city of Irving. The majority of the property was located in the Coppell Independent School District (CISD). CB filed an application with Dallas to change the zoning of the property to allow for the mixed-use development of the property. The city of Coppell and CISD had concerns about the magnitude of the proposed development and its impact on schools and city services in Coppell. Therefore, on Nov. 21, 2005, Coppell filed a condemnation action in County Court-at-Law No. 3, seeking to condemn 71.59 acres of the property to use for parks, recreational activities, affordable workforce and senior housing, and associated right-of-ways. On Nov. 22, 2005, the CISD filed a separate condemnation action in County Court-at-Law No. 5, seeking to condemn 125.83 acres of the property for school facilities. CB then amended its zoning application pending in Dallas to increase the number of residential units allowed to be built on the property. On Jan. 25, 2006, Dallas approved CB’s amended application. On March 21, 2006, CB filed suit against Coppell, its mayor and members of its city council in County Court-at-Law No. 3, alleging Coppell’s condemnation proceedings were a legal fraud and an abuse of process. CB asserted that Coppell instituted the condemnation case to coerce CB into terminating or reducing the proposed development of the property and that Coppell was illegally attempting to condemn land located in Dallas without Dallas’ permission. CB also claimed Coppell’s actions violated CB’s due process and equal protection rights under the Texas Constitution. On April 14, 2006, Coppell, its mayor and members of its city council filed a plea to the jurisdiction, along with an original answer, contending that: the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over CB’s claims because they had immunity; the claims were not ripe; CB did not have standing to assert the claims; and CB failed to give notice of the claims. The trial court set the matter for hearing on May 26, 2006. On May 23, 2006, however, the trial granted CB’s motion for continuance on the plea to the jurisdiction so that CB could conduct discovery. Although the record does not contain the pleadings, the parties represented to the trial court that Dallas, at some point, filed separate suits against Coppell and the CISD in the 95th Judicial District Court of Dallas County and the 162nd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, claiming Coppell and the CISD did not have the authority to condemn land located in Dallas. On June 2, 2006, Coppell and the CISD sued Dallas and CB in the 101st Judicial District Court of Dallas County, requesting a declaratory judgment that Dallas’ rezoning of the property, including the portion of the property subject to the two condemnation actions, was a violation of substantive due process, the open meetings law, and the planning and zoning enabling act. Coppell also sought injunctive relief prohibiting Dallas from processing or approving any building or land use permits to prevent interference with the condemnation proceedings. On June 23, 2006, CB filed an answer in the rezoning suit, along with a request for sanctions and a counterclaim for attorneys’ fees. CB also filed a motion to transfer in the abuse-of-process suit, requesting that County Court-at-Law No. 3 transfer the rezoning suit to that court pursuant to Dallas County Local Rules 1.06 and 1.07. On Sept. 7, 2006, Coppell and the CISD dismissed their claims against CB in the rezoning suit. Thus, CB remains a party to the rezoning suit only by virtue of its counterclaim for attorneys’ fees and its request for sanctions. On Sept. 13, 2006, CB filed an amended petition in the abuse-of-process suit, adding claims against the CISD and members of its board. On Sept. 15, 2006, Judge Sally Montgomery, presiding over County Court-at-Law No. 3, heard CB’s motion to transfer. After hearing argument from counsel, Montgomery transferred the rezoning case to her court. The city of Coppell, its mayor and city council, CISD and the CISD board members (the Coppell relators) sought mandamus relief from the 5th Court of Appeals, arguing that Montgomery abused her discretion in granting the transfer and requesting proceedings in the trial court be stayed pending this court’s decision. The 5th Court granted the motion to stay. HOLDING:The court denied the petition for mandamus relief, because the Coppell relators had an adequate remedy at law. Under Dallas County rules, whenever a pending case is so related to another case previously filed in or disposed of by another Dallas County court that a transfer of the later case to the other court would facilitate orderly and efficient disposition of the litigation, the judge of the court in which the earlier case is or was pending may � upon 1. notice to all affected parties and the transferor court, and 2. a hearing � transfer the later case to such court. A case, the court stated, must be transferred if it arises out of the same transaction or occurrence as a case that was filed earlier in another court. The attorney on the second-filed case is required to notify the judges of both courts of the related cases in either the original pleading filed in the second case or in a simultaneous filing. The Coppell relators first contended that Montgomery abused her discretion by granting CB’s motion to transfer, because the Dallas County local rules allow for a transfer only on the court’s initiative. But the court found instead that the rules require the attorney for each party to bring the related cases to the attention of both courts. CB complied with the rules by filing motions to transfer in the rezoning and abuse-of-process cases. Accordingly, the court found that Montgomery did not abuse her discretion by considering CB’s motion to transfer rather than initiating the transfer on its own motion. The Coppell relators next contended that Montgomery abused her discretion by granting the motion to transfer without ruling on Coppell’s plea to the jurisdiction in the abuse-of-process case and determining it had subject matter jurisdiction over the case. Dallas County Civil Court Rule 1.06, the court stated, allows the transfer of a case only if the recipient court has jurisdiction over the case being transferred. In addition, a trial court must also have jurisdiction over the case “that was filed first before that case can serve as the basis for the transfer of the second case.” Accordingly, the court stated that transfer of a later case is proper only if the trial court has jurisdiction over both cases. Thus, the court found that Montgomery abused her discretion by ruling on the motion to transfer filed in the abuse-of-process case without first determining that she had subject matter jurisdiction in the case. Finally, the Coppell relators argued that the rezoning case was not sufficiently related to the abuse of process case to support the transfer under the local rules. But the court noted that also pending in County Court-at-Law No. 3 was the condemnation case. Thus, the court concluded that Montgomery could justify a transfer under the local rules by considering whether the condemnation case or the abuse of process case sufficiently related to the rezoning case. The court, however, found that the rezoning case was not subject to mandatory transfer under Rule 1.07, because the record did not reflect the rezoning case arose out of the same transaction or occurrence as either the condemnation case or the abuse of process case. Similarly, the court found that the record did not support a finding that the rezoning case was so related to either the abuse-of-process case or the condemnation case that the transfer of the rezoning case would result in an orderly and efficient disposition of the ligation. Accordingly, the court found that Montgomery abused her discretion in transferring the rezoning case under Rule 1.06. Despite this finding, the court denied the Coppell relators’ mandamus petition, because they had an adequate remedy on appeal. The court, however, stated that it was “confident that, upon request, Judge Montgomery will reassess her decision in light of this opinion.” OPINION:Thomas, C.J.; Thomas, C.J., and Bridges and Francis, J.J.

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