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SMU Law Review




States' and nations' laws collide when foreign factors appear in a lawsuit. Nonresident litigants, incidents outside the forum, parallel lawsuits, and judgments from other jurisdictions can create problems with personal jurisdiction, choice of law, and the recognition of foreign judgments. This article reviews Texas conflicts cases from Texas state and federal courts during the Survey period from October 1, 2001, through November 1, 2002. The article excludes cases involving federal-state conflicts, intrastate issues such as subject matter jurisdiction and venue, and conflicts in time, such as the applicability of prior or subsequent law within a state.

State and federal cases are discussed together because conflicts of laws is mostly a state law topic, except for a few constitutional limits, resulting in the same rules applying to most issues in state and federal courts. The discussion is organized according to conflict of laws categories. For jurisdiction over nonresidents, the categories are the grounds for amenability-consent, forum contacts, and grounds for declining jurisdiction. The choice of law categories reflect the hierarchy of choice of law rules, first statutory, then party choice of law, then the Restatement (Second)'s most-significant-relationship test, followed by miscellaneous issues such as constitutional limits, proof of foreign law, and limitations. The foreign judgments categories are enforcement (according to specific uniform acts) and preclusion (interstate and international).

During the Survey period, forum contests included a variety of jurisdictional assertions over nonresidents in contract, tort and other settings. Jurisdictional theories included a service-of-suit clause construed as consent to amenability, alter-ego and the single-enterprise doctrine, and cases exploring the boundaries of general jurisdiction (such as jurisdiction based on unrelated banking activity). Jurisdiction was lacking over a Belgian employment law claim, and a nationwide federal long-arm failed because of a predicate venue provision. Courts reached opposite results in two internet cases, discussed retained jurisdiction under the new child custody act, and issued an unauthorized anti-suit injunction against a Mississippi lawsuit.

Choice of law cases affirmed the parties' right to choose their governing law, declined to adopt the Restatement's statute of limitations rule, upheld arbitration agreements but strictly construed them to exclude children not subject to the contract, applied Texas insurance law--the insurable interest doctrine--to several companies' purchase of life insurance policies on Texas employees (and considered the constitutionality given the case's contacts with eight states), reiterated the requirements for proof of foreign law, and applied Texas's new borrowing statute to an asbestosis claim arising in Alaska.

Foreign judgments cases discussed the difference between jurisdictional facts and the merits in a jurisdictional challenge to a New Jersey judgment, upheld the validity of English due process, and found the Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgment Recognition Act persuasive in a preclusion case rejecting a non-monetary Mexican judgment.

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Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law

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