Appeal from the 133rd District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2016-20087
consists of Justices Jennings, Bland, and Brown.
BROWN JUSTICE .
an interlocutory appeal from the trial court's order
overruling a special appearance made by a foreign defendant,
Chevron Bangladesh Block Twelve Ltd., in a premises liability
suit brought by Texas residents, Stephen and Vicki Baldwin.
In this lawsuit, both the alleged negligence and the alleged
injury occurred overseas in South Asia. The principal
issue is whether the trial court properly exercised general
jurisdiction over Chevron Bangladesh.
reverse the trial court's order, sustain Chevron
Bangladesh's special appearance, and dismiss the
Baldwins' claims against Chevron Bangladesh for lack of
Bangladesh is a corporation that produces and processes
natural gas and condensate in Bangladesh. It sells all the
natural gas and condensate it produces to Bangladesh's
national oil company, Petrobangla. Chevron Bangladesh is
organized under the laws of Bermuda, and its principal place
of business is Bangladesh. It maintains offices in Bermuda
and Bangladesh and employs approximately 200 individuals, all
of whom work in either Bermuda or Bangladesh.
years ago, Chevron Bangladesh began working on a project to
expand an existing gas processing plant to process additional
natural gas produced from a field in northeast Bangladesh.
Chevron Bangladesh hired an affiliate, Chevron Energy
Technology Company, to provide quality assurance and quality
control oversight and review of the work performed by
contractors at the plant.
2014, a Chevron Energy employee and Texas resident, Stephen
Baldwin, provided such quality control services at Chevron
Bangladesh's plant in Bangladesh. One day, while exiting
the plant, Baldwin fell several stories and was severely
and his wife, Vicki, sued Chevron Bangladesh, along with
sixteen other defendants, in Texas state court. The Baldwins
asserted a premises liability claim against Chevron
Bangladesh, alleging that Chevron Bangladesh was negligent in
(1) creating a dangerous exit, (2) failing to ensure that the
exit was suitable for traversing, and (3) failing to warn
potential users of the dangerous condition at its plant. The
Baldwins generally pleaded that the trial court had personal
jurisdiction over all the defendants because they were all
either citizens of Texas or doing business in Texas, and they
specifically pleaded that Chevron Bangladesh is a foreign
business entity that is organized under the laws of Bermuda,
maintains its principal place of business in Bangladesh, and
does not maintain a registered agent for service of process
in the State of Texas.
Bangladesh filed a special appearance supported by an
affidavit from one of its officers, Jonathon Noseworthy.
Chevron Bangladesh argued that it is not subject to general
jurisdiction because it is not incorporated in Texas, does
not have its principal place of business in Texas, and is not
otherwise at home in Texas. And it argued that it is not
subject to specific jurisdiction because the alleged injury
and the alleged negligence both occurred in Bangladesh.
jurisdictional discovery, the Baldwins filed a response in
which they conceded that Chevron Bangladesh is not subject to
[Chevron Bangladesh] is correct that there is no showing that
[the trial court] should exercise specific jurisdiction over
it because the tort herein at issue did not occur within
Baldwins argued that Chevron Bangladesh is subject to general
jurisdiction because its Texas contacts are so continuous and
systematic as to render it essentially at home in Texas. The
Baldwins emphasized that, between 2011 and 2016, Chevron
Bangladesh recruited and hired five Texas residents and
purchased millions of dollars of equipment and supplies from