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In re Lombana

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

December 5, 2017

IN RE CLAUDIO LOMBANA, Relator

         ORIGINAL PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS 281st District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2016-70389

          Panel consists of Justices Jamison, Busby, and Donovan.

          OPINION

          MARTHA HILL JAMISON, JUSTICE

         In the Harris County district court, relator Claudio Lombana brought suit against real parties-in-interest CB&I LLC and Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (collectively CB&I) for breach of Lombana's employment contract and other related claims (the Texas action). When CB&I answered, it moved for a stay of the Texas action pending an alleged appeal of a judgment by a Colombian Labor Court in an action by Lombana against a Colombian subsidiary of CB&I (the Colombian action). On July 18, 2017, the trial court signed an order staying the Texas action.

         Lombana filed a petition for writ of mandamus asking this court to compel the trial court to vacate its stay order. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 22.221; see also Tex. R. App. P. 52.

         We conclude that the trial court abused its discretion by staying the Texas action because the first-filed Colombian action had been adjudicated. We therefore conditionally grant the petition for writ of mandamus.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         CB&I hired Lombana as a salaried employee in its Houston office. Lombana was later transferred to Colombia to work for CB&I Colombiana S.A. (Colombiana), a Colombian subsidiary of CB&I.

         On September 1, 2015, Lombana filed the Colombian action against Colombiana for breach of Lombana's oral and written employment agreements and other related claims.

         On October 15, 2016, Lombana filed the Texas action against CB&I for breach of Lombana's employment contract and other related claims.

         On December 6, 2016, the Colombian Labor Court in Cartagena issued a written judgment in the Colombian action that made certain declarations and ordered Colombiana to pay Lombana approximately $14, 661.

         On April 7, 2017, CB&I filed an answer in the Texas action and a motion to stay the Texas action pending a final decision in the Colombian action. CB&I stated that the Colombian judgment was currently on appeal. CB&I argued that the later-filed Texas action should be stayed based on the principle of comity. On July 18, 2017, the trial signed an order that stayed the Texas action for 90 days or until the final resolution of the parallel Colombian labor proceeding, whichever occurs first.

         On October 27, 2017, the trial court held a status conference and signed an order extending the stay for 30 days.[1] The order notes that counsel for CB&I reported that the appeal of the Colombian action is still proceeding, and the order provides that the court will hold another status conference after 30 days to determine if the stay should be extended further.

         Mandamus ...


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