X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Dorothy Mueller boarded a Carnival Cruise Ship, the Celebration, that departed from Galveston on Feb. 21, 2002. Because Mueller had a feeding tube, her son-in-law and her daughter Melody went along with her. During the voyage, Mueller’s feeding tube became dislodged. According to Melody Allison’s third amended petition, Mueller attempted to get care from the ship’s infirmary, where one doctor, Dr. Chris Uche, and three nurses were stationed. It is undisputed that Mueller did not get her feeding tube reinserted on the cruise ship. A couple of weeks after the cruise, Mueller had a stroke. Allison alleged that negligent care given aboard the ship caused the stroke. On behalf of Mueller, Allison filed suit against various parties, including Uche, the head nurse and Carnival Cruise Lines. In a previous opinion, the 1st Court of Appeals held that while Uche worked aboard the ship, he served as an independent contractor and that Mueller’s injury occurred in international waters. Uche filed a special appearance arguing that the trial court lacked both general and specific jurisdiction over him. The trial court denied Uche’s motion for special appearance on May 15, 2006. On Dec. 27, 2006, while Uche appealed the denial of that motion, Uche moved for sanctions, alleging that Allison made “gross misstatements of fact and concocted arguments [that] lack even a scintilla of merit or credibility independently, or collectively, in addition to Appellees’ brief containing such an inordinate amount of falsehoods, inventions and deceptions . . . .” On Jan. 30, 2007, the 1st Court ordered that the motion for sanctions be carried with the case. Uche moved to stay the trial proceedings. On Dec. 8, 2006, the 1st Court granted a stay of the trial pending resolution of this appeal. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered. Two requirements, the court stated, must be met before a Texas court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. First, the Texas longarm statute must authorize the exercise of jurisdiction. Second, the exercise of jurisdiction must be consistent with the guarantees of due process. The longarm statute, Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code �17.042, permits Texas courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant that does business in Texas. With respect to personal jurisdiction, federal due process requires two things, the court stated. First, the nonresident defendant must have purposefully established such minimum contacts with the forum state that the defendant could reasonably anticipate being sued there. Second, if the nonresident defendant has purposefully established minimum contacts with the forum, the exercise of personal jurisdiction must also comport with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. In addition, a court may exercise general jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant if the defendant’s contacts with the forum state are continuous and systematic, even if the cause of action did not arise from or relate to the defendant’s contacts with the forum. For the court to have specific jurisdiction, the nonresident defendant must have established minimum contacts by purposefully availing itself of the privilege of conducting activities in Texas and there must be a substantial connection between those contacts and the operative facts of the litigation. The record did not reflect that Dr. Uche himself, purposefully directed any act toward Texas, the court stated. The record, the court stated, did not show that Uche asked Carnival that he be sent to Texas, that he intended to serve the Texas market, that he communicated with patients living in Texas or that he had any substantial contact with Texas residents before the ship reached international waters. Because Uche’s contacts were not purposefully directed at Texas and because the contacts he did have with the state were not continuous and systematic, the court concluded that the trial court lacked general jurisdiction over Uche. In determining whether specific jurisdiction existed, the court noted evidence that a nurse treated Mueller but found no evidence that Uche was even made aware of Mueller’s condition. Thus, the court could not say “that Dr. Uche’s alleged failure to act on the high seas to treat a passenger from Texas, Dorothy, bears a substantial connection with Dr. Uche’s contacts with Texas sufficient to subject him to the specific jurisdiction of the courts of this state. OPINION:Keyes, J.; Radack, C.J., and Keyes and Higley, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.