Appeal from the 133rd District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2014-17013
consists of Justices Christopher, McCally (not
participating), and Busby. 
Brett Busby Justice.
interlocutory appeal from the denial of a special appearance
presents the following question: when a lawyer who is not a
Texas resident appears in a Texas court to represent a
nonresident client, and the client wishes to sue the lawyer
for malpractice and other claims related to the
representation, do Texas courts have specific personal
jurisdiction over the lawyer with regard to those claims? We
conclude that the answer is yes.
Richard Nawracaj is an attorney licensed to practice law in
Illinois. He represented appellees PeopleStrategy, Inc. and
its wholly owned subsidiary Genesys Software Systems, Inc.
(collectively Genesys) in various matters, including a lawsuit
Genesys filed in federal court in Dallas. When local counsel
in the federal litigation sued Genesys in state district
court in Houston for non-payment of fees, Genesys filed a
third-party petition against Nawracaj, alleging several
causes of action regarding the services he provided to
Genesys in the federal litigation. Nawracaj filed a special
appearance, which the trial court denied after considering
evidence submitted by the parties.
argues that his representation of Genesys in Texas is
insufficient to give a Texas court specific personal
jurisdiction over claims regarding that representation, and
that exercising jurisdiction violates fair play given the
Illinois arbitration clause in his engagement agreement with
Genesys. We disagree because Nawracaj purposefully availed
himself of the privilege and financial benefit of practicing
law in a Texas court on behalf of his client Genesys, he
recruited and supervised local counsel in Texas, and his
practice and supervision are the basis of Genesys's
claims against him.
relationship with Genesys began in July 2009, when he entered
into an engagement agreement with the company to represent it
in various matters. Several years later, Genesys decided to
file an intellectual-property lawsuit in federal court in
Dallas against Comerica Bank, a Texas corporation (the
"federal litigation"). Because Nawracaj is an
Illinois attorney not licensed to practice in Texas, he
sought local counsel to assist with the litigation. Nawracaj
began drafting the complaint while directing numerous
telephone calls to Texas to identify suitable local counsel.
Nawracaj billed Genesys over $1, 000 for the time he spent
soliciting, researching, and corresponding with potential
communicating with the Travis Law Firm in Texas, Nawracaj
referred Genesys to the firm. Genesys hired the Travis firm
to serve as local counsel and entered into a fee agreement
directly with that firm. Nawracaj continued working on the
case in Illinois and communicated regularly with the Travis
firm. Nawracaj requested to receive service from the Dallas
federal court. He also applied for and obtained admission
pro hac vice, allowing him to represent Genesys in
the State of Texas for purposes of the federal litigation.
Nawracaj testified that he handled at least 90% of the work
on the case.
to Gregory R. Travis, he understood that the Travis firm was
hired as "mere[ ] local counsel" and would fill a
"support role." The pleadings filed with the court
listed Gregory Travis as the "attorney in charge, "
but the parties agreed that the Travis firm would be
"working closely" with Nawracaj and taking
direction from him. Nawracaj assisted the Travis firm in the
drafting and filing of all documents and pleadings, and
Nawracaj drafted two pleadings without the Travis firm's
February 2013, Genesys sent Nawracaj copies of invoices it
had received from the Travis firm, which Genesys believed to
be inflated. Nawracaj responded by advising Genesys not to
pay the invoice because he believed the fees were
unreasonable. He sent Genesys an email stating:
Do not - repeat, do not - pay this. Or any other amount to
The Travis Law Firm.
I did the majority of the work on this matter (90% or so from
my recollection). I am absolutely shocked at the total. . . .
In my estimation, the most that should have been billed would
be around $5, 000 for the amount of work they did.
. . . I will happily take care of this matter. . . .
relied on Nawracaj's advice and did not pay the Travis
Travis firm later sued Genesys for unpaid legal fees in state
district court in Houston. Genesys counterclaimed for, among
other claims, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of
contract, and fraud. Genesys later amended its counterclaim
and filed a third-party petition asserting the same causes of
action against Nawracaj.
filed a special appearance, objecting to the trial
court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over him. In
its response, Genesys argued that Nawracaj's actions in
recruiting local Texas counsel, obtaining permission to
practice law in Texas, and committing a tort in whole or in
part in Texas were sufficient to confer jurisdiction over
him. After jurisdictional discovery, in which Nawracaj gave a
deposition, the parties filed supplemental briefing on the
special appearance. The trial court signed an order denying
the special appearance, and Nawracaj filed this interlocutory
appeal. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
§ 51.014(a)(7) (West 2015).
issues, Nawracaj complains that the trial court erred by
denying his special appearance. Nawracaj argues that the
facts do not support specific personal jurisdiction because
(1) Genesys's allegations were insufficient to bring
Nawracaj within the provisions of the Texas long-arm statute;
(2) Genesys did not prove that Nawracaj purposefully
established minimum contacts with Texas; and (3) the
assertion of personal jurisdiction over Nawracaj does not
comport with traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice because the parties agreed to arbitration in
Illinois. We address each argument in turn.
Standard of review
a trial court has personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
defendant is a question of law that we review de
novo, but the trial court frequently must resolve
questions of fact before deciding the question of
jurisdiction. Waller Marine, Inc. v. Magie, 463
S.W.3d 614, 618 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2015, no
pet.). The trial court did not issue any findings of fact or
conclusions of law with its special appearance ruling.
Therefore, all factual findings necessary to support the
court's ruling and supported by the evidence are implied.
BMC Software Belgium, N.V. v. Marchand, 83 S.W.3d
789, 795 (Tex. 2002). These implied findings are not
conclusive and may be challenged for evidentiary sufficiency.
Id. Although Nawracaj argues that the evidence is
insufficient to support the exercise of personal
jurisdiction, he does not dispute the jurisdictional facts.
When the facts underlying the jurisdictional issue are
undisputed, we review the trial court's determination
de novo. Nogle & Black ...