Pushing the jurisdictional envelope.

Triple SSS Aviation v. Adkison (Published Memo):  Adkison, a Rusk County lawyer, sued in Rusk County to collect the escrow when a deal to sell his 1981 Cessna fell through. 

The buyer was a Delware company headquartered in Michigan who when through a broker in Missouri and an aircraft title company in Oklahoma.  The buyer was not authorized to do business in Texas, had never done business in Texas, had no office, mailbox, or employees in Texas, didn’t manufacture a product that could enter the stream of commerce in Texas, didn’t advertise in Texas, had no clientele in Texas, had never solicited business in Texas, and didn’t maintain an internet website that could be viewed by a Texas resident. 

There was a written agreement concerning the sale of the airplane.  The agreement called for a $50,000 escrow.  It also provided that agreement would be construed under the laws of the State of Michigan.  While the choice-of-law clause isn’t controlling, it does tip the scales towards it being unfair to drag Triple SSS to Texas.

Apparently, the only contacts with Texas were a couple of phone calls between Adkison and the officers of the buyer.  That being said, there were no face-to-face meetings, and the bulk of the negotiations were conducted through the Missouri broker.

When test pilots push their planes beyond the performance envelope, they crash and burn.  Adkison’s argument based on the phone call exceed the jurisdictional envelope, with similar results.  But, like Chuck Yeager at the end of The Right Stuff, I imagine he’s OK.

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