In RE Transcontinental Realty Investors, Inc. No. 07-0608 (Tex. Nov. 14, 2008)
(venue mandamus in condemnation suit)
IN RE TRANSCONTINENTAL REALTY INVESTORS, INC.; from Kaufman County; 5th district
(05-07-00726-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 07-25-07)
Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 52.8(c), without hearing oral argument, the Court
conditionally grants the petition for writ of mandamus.
Per Curiam Opinion
In Re Transcontinental Realty Investors, Inc. (Tex. 2008)(per curiam)
The question here is whether an amendment to the permissive-venue statute in the 1980s should
be interpreted to eliminate businesses from every venue statute that refers to where a party
“resides.” We hold that it should not, and thus the defendant corporation here is entitled to be
sued in Dallas County where it “resides.”
North Texas Municipal Water District filed this suit in Kaufman County to condemn a 30-foot
easement for a pipeline across land owned by Transcontinental Realty Investors, Inc. The land is
located partly in Dallas County and partly in Kaufman County. Section 21.013 of the Property
Code requires condemnation suits to be brought where the owner resides if the property is at
least partly in that county:
The venue of a condemnation proceeding is the county in which the owner of the property being
condemned resides if the owner resides in a county in which part of the property is located.
Otherwise, the venue of a condemnation proceeding is any county in which at least part of the
property is located. Tex. Prop. Code § 21.013(a).
Claiming to reside in Dallas County, Transcontinental moved to transfer venue there. The trial
court denied the motion, and the court of appeals denied mandamus relief in a brief
memorandum opinion. Transcontinental then sought relief in this Court.
Section 21.013 is a mandatory venue statute, so it is enforceable by mandamus. Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code §§ 15.016, 15.0642; In re Texas Dep’t of Transp., 218 S.W.3d 74, 76 (Tex. 2007).
No showing is required that appeal is an inadequate remedy. Id. The only issue is the legal
question whether the trial court properly interpreted section 21.013.In re Texas Ass’n of Sch.
Bds., Inc., 169 S.W.3d 653, 656 (Tex. 2005).
It is undisputed that Transcontinental’s principal place of business is in Dallas County, and that it
has no offices in Kaufman County. The District’s petition requested service on Transcontinental’s
registered agent in Dallas County. Under the Texas Business Corporation Act, that must also be
Transcontinental’s registered office. Tex. Bus. Corp. Act, arts. 2.09, 8.08.
The District argues that Transcontinental does not “reside” in Dallas County (as required by
section 21.013) because corporations have no “residence.” We held otherwise in Ward v.
Fairway Operating Co., stating that the registered office and agent required by the Business
Corporation Act “shall constitute a statutory place of residence of the corporation.”364 S.W.2d
194, 195 (Tex. 1963).Ward was one of a long line of cases trying to define a corporation’s
“domicile” — the general term that governed Texas venue law (with numerous exceptions) from
1836 until 1983.See Dan R. Price, New Texas Venue Statute: Legislative History, 15 St. Mary’s
L.J. 855, 857–58 (1984).
The District argues that Ward no longer applies because the Legislature amended the
permissive-venue statute in 1983 to limit “residence” to natural persons:
Except as otherwise provided by this Subchapter or Subchapter B or C, all lawsuits shall be
(1) in the county in which all or a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the
(2) in the county of defendant’s residence at the time the cause of action accrued if defendant is
a natural person;
(3) in the county of the defendant’s principal office in this state, if the defendant is not a natural
(4) if Subdivisions (1), (2), and (3) do not apply, in the county in which the plaintiff resided at the
time of the accrual of the cause of action.
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 15.002(a).The District argues that the distinction between natural
and nonnatural persons in paragraphs (2) and (3) reflects a legislative determination that
corporations no longer have a “residence” for any purpose.
We agree the Legislature certainly intended to change “domicile” into something more specific,
but that does not mean it intended to eliminate corporations from every other statute referring to
“residence.” Many venue statutes continue to refer to “residence” without limiting that term to
natural persons. See id. §§ 15.033, 15.035(b), 15.082, 15.087, 15.088, 15.092(c), 15.098.
Indeed, the permissive-venue statute itself provides that if sections (1) through (3) do not apply,
then venue is proper where the plaintiff “resided” when the action accrued. Id. § 15.02(4).If the
District is correct that this cannot include corporations, then when the defendant resides and all
events occur out of state, a plaintiff corporation cannot bring the suit anywhere in Texas.
While section 21.013 does not define “owner,” two other sections of the Property Code do:
section 73.001(a)(3) as “a person who has an ownership interest,” and section 209.002(6) as “a
person who holds record title to property. ”In construing statutes, the word “person” includes
corporations and other legal entities unless the context indicates otherwise. Tex. Gov’t Code §
In addition to these, many other statutes refer to “persons” who “reside” in Texas. See, e.g., Tex.
Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§ 16.066(b), 64.003, 64.093; Tex. Ins. Code §§ 462.202, 463.003(10);
Tex. Tax Code § 111.0043.Given the general rule that “persons” includes corporations, we do not
think amendment of the permissive-venue statute was intended to change all of these.
In sum, when the Legislature amended the permissive-venue statute to distinguish between a
natural person’s “residence” and a business’s “principal office,” we do not think it intended to
eliminate corporations and other legal entities from all statutes that refer to a place where one
“resides.” Undoubtedly, the Legislature could exclude corporations from section 21.013.But until
it does so, we hold that landowners who are businesses — just like landowners who are
individuals — can insist on venue where they reside if the condemned property is partly located
Accordingly, without hearing oral argument we conditionally grant mandamus relief and direct the
trial court to transfer venue of this case to Dallas County. Tex. R. App. P. 52.8(c). We are
confident the trial court will comply, and our writ will issue only if it does not.
OPINION DELIVERED: November 14, 2008
OPINION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS
Court of Appeals
Fifth District of Texas at Dallas
IN RE TRANSCONTINENTAL REALTY INVESTORS, INC., Relator
Original Proceeding from the County Court at Law No. 1
Kaufman County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 71709cc
Before Justices Moseley, Bridges, and Francis
Opinion by Justice Moseley
Relator contends the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to transfer venue to Dallas County. The
facts and issues are well known to the parties, so we need not recount them herein. Based on the record
before us, we conclude relator has failed to show the trial court clearly abused its discretion. See Tex. R.
App. P. 52.8(a); Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839-44 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). Accordingly,
we DENY relator's petition for writ of mandamus. See Tex. R. App. P. 52.3.