Appeal from the 295th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2018-57553
consists of Justices Lloyd, Goodman, and Landau.
& Associates, L.L.P. filed a declaratory judgment action
seeking an order compelling Crissy Carrasco and David
Carrasco, Jr. to arbitrate their legal malpractice claim
against the firm. The Carrascos disputed personal
jurisdiction. The trial court agreed with the Carrascos and
dismissed the firm's suit. We affirm.
Carrascos, California residents who have no contacts with
Texas, retained Shrader & Associates, a Texas law firm,
to represent them in a personal-injury matter. After the
statute of limitations had expired as to the personal-injury
claim and without filing suit, the law firm informed the
Carrascos that it would be unable to represent them or pursue
litigation on their behalf and therefore ended its
representation of the Carrascos. The Carrascos then sued the
firm in California state court, alleging legal malpractice.
& Associates filed this declaratory judgment action
against the Carrascos seeking an order compelling arbitration
of their legal malpractice claim. The firm alleged that the
Carrascos had signed a fee agreement containing a mandatory
arbitration clause as to any attorney-client disputes.
In relevant part, the fee agreement's arbitration clause
XVII. Arbitration. Any disagreement, dispute, claim or cause
of action arising pursuant to the performance of this
agreement shall be resolved through binding arbitration. The
arbitration shall take place before a panel of three (3)
arbitrators in conformance with the rules of the American
Arbitration Association in Houston, Harris County,
undisputed that the Carrascos signed the fee agreement and
that a representative of Shrader & Associates did not do
so despite a separate signature block for the firm. Above the
parties' signature blocks, the agreement provides that,
Contract was entered into on ______." The blank provided
for the date of execution is empty.
Carrascos filed a special appearance contesting personal
jurisdiction. Shrader & Associates responded that the
trial court had personal jurisdiction over the Carrascos for
the limited purpose of compelling arbitration because the fee