February 27, 2013 Articles

Limiting Reviewability of Transfer Venues in Texas

Courts have deemed transfer orders untouchable at the slightest intimation of a justice and convenience ground

by Maria-Vittoria G. Carminati and Ammad Waheed

Venue is a major consideration in structuring any lawsuit. A plaintiff's choice of venue under Texas law can, however, be disturbed if a court determines that venue in another county is in the interests of convenience and justice. This article addresses venue transfers based on convenience and justice and a recent trend in Texas decisions to limit the reviewability of such transfers.

Under Texas law, venue is proper in the county where all or a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claims took place, in the county of the defendant's residence at the time the cause of action accrued, or in the county of the defendant's principal office in Texas if the defendant is a corporation. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 15.002(a). However, a defendant can nonetheless obtain a venue transfer from a proper county of the plaintiff's choosing when such transfer would be "for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice." Id. at § 15.002(b). Transferring on the basis of convenience and justice is an extremely powerful tool because it cannot be reviewed: "A court's ruling or decision to grant or deny a transfer [based on convenience and justice] is not grounds for appeal or mandamus and is not reversible error." Id. at §15.002(c). And if a court grants a venue transfer, without specifying whether it was on the basis of justice and convenience, a court of appeals can imply that the transfer was granted on the basis of justice and convenience, thereby making the lower court's decision unreviewable.

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