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Moncrief Oil Int'l, Inc. v. OAO Gazprom

Supreme Court of Texas

February 6, 2012, Argued; August 30, 2013, Opinion Delivered

NO. 11-0195

Opinion

 [*147]  We have observed that the business contacts needed for specific personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant "are generally a matter of physical fact, while tort liability (especially misrepresentation cases) turns on what the parties thought, said, or intended. Far better that judges should limit their jurisdictional decisions to the former rather than involving themselves in trying the latter."1 Here, nonresident defendants allegedly committed the tort of misappropriating purported trade secrets from a Texas company concerning a proposed Texas venture during two meetings in Texas. The defendants claim their intent in attending the meetings was to discuss an unrelated matter and that they informed the plaintiff of that intent at the meetings. But what the parties thought, said, or intended is generally irrelevant to their jurisdictional contacts. Regardless of the defendants' subjective intent, their Texas contacts are sufficient to confer specific jurisdiction over the defendants  [**2] as to the trade secrets claim.

The nonresident defendants also face claims of tortious interference with the Texas corporation's relationship with a California corporation. But the tortious interference claims either arise from a meeting in California (which cannot support jurisdiction in Texas) or the formation of a competing enterprise in Texas by an entity not subject to jurisdiction in this proceeding. The trial court granted the special appearance, which the court of appeals affirmed. Because we hold there is jurisdiction over the trade secrets claim, but not over the tortious interference claims, we reverse in part and affirm in part the court of appeals' judgment and  [*148]  remand to the trial court for further proceedings.

I. Background

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414 S.W.3d 142 *; 2013 Tex. LEXIS 675 **; 56 Tex. Sup. J. 1023; 2013 WL 4608672

MONCRIEF OIL INTERNATIONAL INC., PETITIONER, v. OAO GAZPROM, GAZPROM EXPORT, LLC, AND GAZPROM MARKETING & TRADING, LTD., RESPONDENTS

Subsequent History: Released for Publication December 12, 2013.

Rehearing denied by Moncrief Oil Int'l v. OAO Gazprom, 2013 Tex. LEXIS 1045 (Tex., Dec. 13, 2013)

Prior History:  [**1] ON PETITION FOR REVIEW FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND DISTRICT OF TEXAS.

Moncrief Oil Int'l, Inc. v. OAO Gazprom, 332 S.W.3d 1, 2010 Tex. App. LEXIS 9382 (Tex. App. Fort Worth, 2010)

CORE TERMS

contacts, trade secret, nonresident, meetings, tortious interference, trial court, personal jurisdiction, court of appeals, Defendants', enterprise, unilateral, depositions, subsidiary, resident, joint venture, fortuitous, attended, forum state, allegations, parties, random, substantial justice, natural gas, phone call, fair play, misappropriation, benefits, Export, exercise of jurisdiction, special appearance

Civil Procedure, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, Due Process, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Long Arm Jurisdiction, Burden Shifting, Minimum Contacts, General Overview, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Purposeful Availment