Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
PROCEEDING TRIAL COURT NO. 17-1641-431
LIVINGSTON, C.J.; SUDDERTH and PITTMAN, JJ.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
T. PITTMAN JUSTICE
Jaeman Cho filed a petition for writ of mandamus in this
court on August 2, 2017, asking us to direct Respondent, the
Honorable Jonathan M. Bailey, to set aside his order of July
26, 2017. We conditionally grant the requested relief.
December 12, 2016, real parties in interest-two Texas
companies and their Korean and Singapore affiliates
(collectively, "GTC")-brought suit in Dallas County
against Cho, a South Korean resident; David Lin, a Texas
resident; and a Texas company. Cho responded by filing a
special appearance challenging GTC's jurisdictional
allegations and denying that he was subject to the trial
court's general or specific personal jurisdiction. The
case was then transferred to Denton County, where defendant
David Lin resides. Cho's special appearance is set for
hearing on September 14, 2017.
propounded a set of 116 requests for production of documents
on Cho and a virtually identical set of requests for
production on Lin, the Texas resident who did not challenge
cursory review of the discovery requests served on Cho
reveals that most bear little or no arguable connection to
obtaining information regarding his general or specific
contacts with Texas. In fact, the very first objection that
Cho placed to all 116 requests was that they sought
"documents that are not relevant to the jurisdictional
facts plead and essential to justify plaintiff's
opposition to the special appearance." Cho also made
other objections to the requests based on their
burdensomeness and scope.
filed a motion to compel Cho's responses to its requests
for production on June 20, 2017, arguing that Cho's
objections should be overruled because they lacked merit and
were mere boilerplate. On July 26, 2017, the trial court
signed an order granting the motion to compel and finding
that "any objections [Cho] asserted in response" to
GTC's requests for production were "obscured by
[Cho's] numerous unfounded objections and therefore
waived." The trial court also ordered Cho to
"produce all documents responsive" to the 116
requests on or before 5:00 p.m. on August 2, 2017.
Standard of Review
relief is proper only to correct a clear abuse of discretion
when there is no "adequate remedy at law, such as a
normal appeal." In re H.E.B. Grocery Co., L.P.,
492 S.W.3d 300, 304 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding) (quoting
State v. Walker, 679 S.W.2d 484, 485 (Tex. 1984)
(orig. proceeding)). A party lacks an adequate remedy on
appeal when the benefits of mandamus outweigh its detriments.
In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d 124,
136 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding). A clear failure by the
trial court to analyze or apply the law correctly constitutes
an abuse of discretion. Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d
833, 840 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). Moreover, mandamus
is appropriate to correct "[a]n order compelling
discovery that is well outside the proper bounds."
In re Am. Optical Corp., 988 S.W.2d 711, 713 (Tex.
1998) (orig. proceeding).
The Trial Court Abused Its Discretion.
nonresident defendant may file a special appearance to object
to the trial court's jurisdiction on the ground that the
defendant "is not amenable to process issued by the
courts of this State." Tex.R.Civ.P. 120a(1). The purpose
of a special appearance is to allow a nonresident defendant
to attack the trial court's jurisdiction over him without
subjecting himself to the jurisdiction of the court
generally. C.W. Brown Mach. Shop, Inc. v. Stanley Mach.
Corp., 670 S.W.2d 791, 793 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1984,
no writ). Rule 120a(3) provides for discovery "limited
to matters directly relevant to the issue" of
jurisdiction. Stanton v. Gloersen, No.
05-16-00214-CV, 2016 WL 7166550, at *6 (Tex. App.-Dallas Nov.
30, 2016, pet. denied) (mem. op.) (citing In re Doe,
444 S.W.3d 603, 608 (Tex. 2014) (orig. proceeding));
see Tex. R. Civ. P. 120a(3). A court should not
reach the merits of the case when deciding a special
appearance. See Michiana Easy Livin' Country, Inc. v.
Holten, 168 S.W.3d 777, 791-92 (Tex. 2005).
Cho clearly and unequivocally objected to each of the 116
requests for production on the grounds that they were
"not relevant to the jurisdictional facts plead and
essential to justify plaintiff's opposition to the
special appearance." Rather than consider the merits of
those objections, the trial court merely overruled all of
Cho's objections, finding that they were
"obscured" by "numerous unfounded objections
and therefore waived." In effect, the trial court gave
GTC carte blanche to engage in full merits-based document
discovery despite the pendency of Cho's special
appearance. This was a clear abuse of
discretion. It is well-settled that Rule 120a requires
discovery to be limited to matters relevant to jurisdiction
before the trial court rules on a special appearance.
Doe, 444 S.W.3d at 608; In re Stanton, No.