February 26, 2016

February 26, 2016

The Supreme Court of Texas issued five opinions this week. One of these opinions addresses the application of the Texas long arm statute in the context of broadcast television programs. Another opinion addresses whether an appellate court can order arbitration without first addressing every argument raised against compelling arbitration.

TV Azteca, S.A.B. de C.V., et al. v. Gloris de Los Angeles Trevino Ruiz, et al.; No. 14-0186

This case involves an interlocutory appeal from the trial court's denial of special appearances made by Mexican citizens who broadcast TV programs via over-the-air signals, which originated in Mexico and traveled into Texas. Texas residents brought suit in Texas against the Mexican television producer, anchor, and broadcaster for defamation.

The issue presented is whether the Mexican citizens have minimum contacts to establish personal jurisdiction in Texas.

The Texas Supreme Court focused its analysis on specific jurisdiction and held that the evidence supported the trial court's determination that the Petitioners did have minimum contacts sufficient to support jurisdiction in Texas. Specifically, the Court found that by their actions the Petitioners purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting activities within Texas, and therefore could reasonably anticipate being sued in Texas.

The Court concluded that the Petitioners took specific and substantial actions to take advantage of the fact that their broadcast signals reached into Texas because the evidence established that the Petitioners (1) physically entered Texas to produce and promote their broadcasts, (2) derived substantial revenue by selling advertising time to Texas businesses, and (3) made efforts to distribute their programs and increase their popularity in Texas.

The Court clarified that evidence that a Texas resident was harmed in Texas, that the broadcasts were viewable in Texas, and that the Petitioners knew the broadcasts were viewable in Texas are insufficient to establish that the Petitioners purposefully availed themselves of the benefits of conducting activities in Texas. However, because the Petitioners in this case intentionally targeted Texas by taking specific and substantial actions to take advantage of the fact that their broadcasts reached into Texas and financially benefited from that fact, the Petitioners purposefully availed themselves of the benefits of conducting activities within Texas.

Yvonne Cardwell v. Whataburger Restaurants LLC; No. 14-1019

This case arises from a work-place injury suit in which an employee challenged the arbitration agreement contained in the employee handbook on various grounds including that it was unconscionable and illusory. The trial court denied the employer's motion to compel arbitration based on the employee's unconscionability arguments. The court of appeals reversed and ordered arbitration. Although the court of appeals set forth all of the parties' arguments concerning arbitration, the court addressed only the unconscionability grounds on which the trial court based its ruling.

The issue presented is whether the court of appeals erred by addressing only one of the issues raised in the employee's challenge to arbitration.

The Texas Supreme Court held that the court of appeals could not order arbitration without either addressing every challenge raised or remanding the case to the trial court for the trial court to address each challenge raised.