Appeals court declines to keep plaintiffs' suit in Jefferson County

David Yates Jun. 22, 2010, 7:39am

Since the nature of the plaintiffs' case is not an action for recovery of real property, Beaumont justices recently declined to reverse a lower court's ruling transferring a financial dispute case from Jefferson to Harris County.

Earlier this month, plaintiffs JJJJ Walker, Dynafab USA, Renaissance Properties of Texas, Priya Properties, BD Texas and KW Hospital Acquisition turned to the Ninth Court of Appeals seeking mandamus relief from Judge Donald Floyd's order to transfer their suit to Harris County.

They contended that venue for their litigation is controlled by statute.

Nevertheless, on June 17 the Ninth Court denied the plaintiffs' petition to keep the venue in Jefferson County, ruling that because the nature of the suit is "not an action for recovery of real property ... the trial court did not interpret (the Texas Civil Code) improperly," states the court's per curiam opinion.

"Accordingly, mandamus is not an appropriate remedy. We deny the petition for writ of mandamus."

In November 2009, the plaintiffs filed suit against the First National Bank of Edinburg Texas, Mweensky Reef Hospital and Lousiana Texas Healthcare Management.

Court documents show that all the parties were part of the Renaissance Healthcare System � a group of related entities with common ownership formed between 2000 and 2008 for the purpose of acquiring failing hospitals and developing them into profitable hospitals.

Although Renaissance facilities are spread throughout Texas and Louisiana, the organization is based in Houston.

In 2007, the combined Renaissance hospitals billed more than $300 million for services rendered and had net revenues of more than $98 million, court papers say.

However, financial disputes arose over loans and property that was acquired in poor condition, leading the plaintiffs to file suit in Jefferson County District Court.

"Here, the claims brought by (plaintiffs) tangentially concern hospital facilities located on real property in Jefferson County, but the essential dispute concerns the financial relationships of various corporations and the fiduciary duties arising out of those relationships," the court's opinion states.

"The substance of these claims involves neither recovering real property nor quieting title. A resolution of the dispute will neither require the trial court to locate a survey nor determine the location of land, nor will the trial court declare rights in real property."

The plaintiffs are represented in part by attorneys R. Michael McCauley Jr., Zona Jones, Jack P. Driskill, Timothy T. Pridemore and Andrew R. Seger.

The defendants are represented in part by attorneys Eric Yollick, Carl A. Parker, C. Travis Owens, Ricky A. Raven and George D. Gordon.

Trial case No. E185-381
Appeals case No. 09-10-00280-CV

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