The Ninth Court of Appeals has agreed to hear oral arguments in a case
questioning whether a Texas state court truly has jurisdiction over a lawsuit
brought by Mexican Nationals over a fatal Explorer rollover incident that occurred
2014, the family of the late Rafael Torres Cardenas filed suit against the
driver of the Explorer, Antonio Lopez Espinoza, the vehicle’s manufacture, Ford
Motor, and manufacturer of the SUV’s tires, Bridgestone, in Jefferson County
to court records, on Jan. 20, 2006, defendant Espinosa was speeding in Nuevo
Leon, Mexico when the tread separated on a Bridgestone tire on his 1995 Ford
Explorer. The Explorer ran off the road, knocked down a barbed-wire fence, and
passenger in the Explorer and a Mexican citizen and resident—was killed. The
Explorer was both designed and manufactured outside of Texas and the
Bridgestone tire, meanwhile, was manufactured in Oklahoma and designed in Ohio.
special appearance issues raised by Ford and Bridgestone, a trial court found
the companies were subject to general jurisdiction in Texas because they, in
addition to selling products to the Texas market, also have offices and bank
accounts in the state.
Ford and Bridgestone cite two U.S. Supreme Court cases, Goodyear v. Brown and
Daimler v. Bauman, and argue:
- The plaintiffs
did not allege or prove any exceptional circumstances that would make Ford and
Bridgestone at home in Texas;
general jurisdiction under Goodyear and Daimler requires Plaintiffs to allege
or prove not just the total number of contacts that Ford and Bridgestone have
with Texas, but also to compare those contacts to the ones that Ford and Bridgestone
have elsewhere; and
before and after Daimler and Goodyear, the courts of appeals recognized that
having offices and bank accounts in a state are not enough to subject a company
to general jurisdiction here. Both, rather, are only one consideration in the
general-jurisdiction analysis—and the general-jurisdiction analysis demands
more than plaintiffs have alleged and proved.
This is the
third lawsuit brought by the plaintiffs, court records show.
suit was filed in Jefferson County and transferred to a multidistrict
litigation pretrial judge, where it was dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds.
The second suit was filed in Mexico, where the courts declined to exercise
On Dec. 22
the Ninth Court set oral arguments for March 2.
plaintiffs, seeking damages in excess of $1 million, contend the tire was
defective and unreasonably dangerous and the Ford Explorer was defectively
designed and marketed.
represented by David E. Harris of Sico, White, Hoelscher Harris & Braugh
LLP and Raymond L. Thomas of Kittleman Thomas PLLC.
is represented by Douglas Pritchett Jr. and Christopher Trent, attorneys for
the Houston law firm Johnson, Trent & Taylor.
represented in part by William Mennucci, attorney for the Austin law firm
Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons.
County District Court case No. A195-335
case No. 09-16-00280-CV