Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF SAN BERNARDINO and Bishop Gerald R. Barnes, Appellants
John DOE, Appellee
the 131st Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2015-CI-08589 Honorable Antonia Arteaga, Judge
Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa,
Justice Beth Watkins, Justice.
interlocutory appeal, we review the trial court's orders
denying special appearances filed by the Roman Catholic
Bishop of San Bernardino, a California non-profit
corporation, also known as the Diocese of San Bernardino
("Diocese) and the Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes, a
California resident who serves as the chief officer and
bishop of the Diocese (collectively referred to herein as
"the California defendants"). To support
Texas's specific jurisdiction over the California
defendants, plaintiff John Doe alleged Jesus Armando
Dominguez was employed by the Diocese and was under the
supervision and control of the Diocese and Bishop
Barnes's predecessors. The trial court concluded Texas
has specific jurisdiction over the California defendants. We
disagree. As a result, we reverse the orders denying the
special appearances and render judgment dismissing the
California defendants from the cause.
to Doe's live petition, in 1980, he was a minor living at
an orphanage near Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas
when Dominguez, a student at the seminary, sexually abused
him. In 2015, Doe filed the underlying lawsuit asserting
claims arising out of that sexual abuse against the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio, by and through the
Apostolic Administrator and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller
and Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Flores, their predecessors
and successors, as Archbishop of the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of San Antonio, Father Jesus Armando Dominguez,
and Father Virgilio Elizondo. He later amended his lawsuit to
include claims against Elizondo's estate and the
being brought into the lawsuit, the California defendants
filed special appearances which the trial court denied. The
California defendants then filed this interlocutory appeal.
a Texas court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant presents a question of law that we
review de novo. Old Republic Nat'l Title Ins. Co. v.
Bell, 549 S.W.3d 550, 558 (Tex. 2018); Searcy v.
Parex Res., Inc., 496 S.W.3d 58, 66 (Tex. 2016). Where,
as here, the trial court does not make findings of fact and
conclusions of law, the reviewing court infers all facts
necessary to support the judgment that are supported by the
evidence. Old Republic Nat'l Title Ins. Co., 549
S.W.3d at 558; M & F Worldwide Corp. v. Pepsi-Cola
Metro. Bottling Co., 512 S.W.3d 878, 885 (Tex. 2017).
long-arm statute extends Texas courts' personal
jurisdiction as far as the federal constitutional
requirements of due process will permit." M & F
Worldwide Corp., 512 S.W.3d at 885 (internal quotation
marks omitted). "A state's exercise of jurisdiction
comports with federal due process if the nonresident
defendant has 'minimum contacts' with the state and
the exercise of jurisdiction does not offend 'traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.'"
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
defendant establishes minimum contacts with a state when it
purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting
activities within the forum state, thus invoking the benefits
and protections of its laws." Old Republic Nat'l
Title Ins. Co., 549 S.W.3d at 559 (internal quotation
marks omitted). "Three principles govern the
purposeful-availment analysis: (1) only the defendant's
contacts with the forum are relevant, not the unilateral
activity of another party or third person; (2) the
defendant's acts must be purposeful and not random,
isolated, or fortuitous; and (3) the defendant must seek some
benefit, advantage, or profit by availing itself of the
jurisdiction such that it impliedly consents to suit
there." M & F Worldwide Corp., 512 S.W.3d
at 886 (internal quotation marks omitted).
defendant's contacts may give rise to general or specific
jurisdiction." Old Republic Nat'l Title Ins.
Co., 549 S.W.3d at 559. In this case, Doe only asserted
specific jurisdiction. "For a Texas court to exercise
specific jurisdiction over a defendant, (1) the
defendant's contact with Texas must be purposeful, and
(2) the cause of action must arise from those contacts."
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). "Thus,
when analyzing specific jurisdiction, we focus on the
relationship between the forum, the defendant, and the
litigation." Id. Stated differently,
"[f]or a Texas court to exercise specific jurisdiction
over a defendant, the defendant's purposeful contacts
must be substantially connected to the operative facts of the
litigation or form the basis of the cause of action."
Id. at 559-60.