In re FPWP GP LLC

Justices Bridges, Myers (Opinion, linked here), and Whitehill

Section 65.023 of the Civil Practice & Remedies Code directs that “a writ of injunction against a … resident of this state shall be tried in … the county in which the party is domiciled.” Texas courts have construed this as precribing mandatory venue for any lawsuit “in which the relief sought is purely or primarily injunctive.” But whether a suit that pleads for more than one remedy seeks “primarily” injunctive relief is not always clear, as this Dallas Court of Appeals decision demonstrates.

The members of a limited partnership disagreed about a number of things, including which entity should serve as general partner. The Second Street faction sued the FPWP faction, seeking a declaratory judgment to sort things out, but also a temporary and permanent injunction to prevent FPWP GP LLC from acting on behalf of the limited partnership as general partner. Because all members of the defendant FPWP faction resided in Harris County, they moved to transfer venue, relying on § 65.023, but the trial court denied that request.

On mandamus, the Dallas Court of Appeals explained that § 65.023 does not prescribe mandatory venue when a claim for injunctive relief is “ancillary” to claims for declaratory or other relief. That is true, for example, where injunctive relief is sought just to maintain the status quo pending resolution of the lawsuit, and generally when no plea is made for a permanent injunction or when “the injunction is sought [only] to enforce rights established in [the] declaratory judgment action.” Here, however, the Court explained, the requested injunctive relief (both temporary and permanent) sought to prevent FPWP and the other relators from taking a number of specific actions inherent in acting as a general partner and that this was the true aim of the lawsuit. Therefore, the Court concluded, “the primary purpose of the lawsuit is injunctive” and the mandatory venue requirement of § 65.023 applied.

The opinion demonstrates that, where this determination is being made in connection with a lawsuit that seeks only a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief intertwined with the requested declarations, one is looking essentially at two sides of a single coin, and deciding which is the “primary” purpose may be more art than science.