CMMC v. Salinas

In CMMC v. Salinas, 929 S.W.2d 435 (Tex. 1996), the Texas Supreme Court was confronted with a case in which the plaintiff sued a French manufacturer of a winepress, which the plaintiff had purchased from a distributor. CMMC, 929 S.W.2d at 436-37. The issue in that case was specific jurisdiction, as CMMC did not have the continuous and systematic contacts necessary for general jurisdiction. See id. at 439 ("CMMC's wine-producing equipment did not regularly find its way to Texas. Neither CMMC nor the distributor made any effort to market CMMC's equipment in Texas . . . ."). The court held that CMMC's knowledge that its winepress was sold for use in Texas was insufficient to establish jurisdiction in the absence of evidence that CMMC took action to purposely avail itself of the Texas market. Id. The French manufacturer shipped its allegedly defective winepress from a New York equipment distributor FOB the Port of Houston. CMMC, 929 S.W.2d at 439. This single contact with Texas was deemed insufficient to cause jurisdiction to attach even under a liberal view of the stream of commerce doctrine. Id. at 438. While the situation before us is not restricted to an "isolated" event, CMMC clearly provides that where there is no evidence that a company designs products for use in the particular state, engages in special efforts to market them here, or takes other actions to purposely avail itself of that market, jurisdiction does not easily attach. Id. at 439. While under specific jurisdiction, even one act by a defendant can support jurisdiction, that act must still be purposefully directed at the forum state so that the defendant could foresee being haled into court there. Id. In CMMC v. Salinas, the winery ordered a winepress from CMMC, the French manufacturer, through an independent distributor. As the court noted, the winery contacted the independent distributor, and not vice versa. CMMC had no place of business in Texas and never had any direct contact with the winery. CMMC had previously sold equipment into the United States, including a direct sale to a different winery in Texas. CMMC arranged for the wine press to be transported from France to Houston, FOB Houston. Thus, CMMC shipped the winepress into Texas, and was aware that the destination of the press was Texas. The Court concluded, that "CMMC's mere knowledge that its winepress was to be sold and used in Texas and its wiring the machine for use in the United States were not sufficient to subject CMMC to the jurisdiction of Texas courts." Id. at 439. The court reasoned: "this evidence simply does not show that CMMC designed products for use in Texas, or that it made any effort to market them here, or that it took any other action to purposefully avail itself of this market. Even Justice Brennan's view of the stream-of-commerce doctrine would not allow jurisdiction absent a "regular and anticipated flow of products from manufacture to distribution to retail sale." There is no flow of products from CMMC to Texas; there is scarcely a dribble. Id. In sum, the defendant, a foreign manufacturer of winepresses, direct shipped a winepress to Houston at the request of an independent wine equipment distributor. Id. at 436. Those circumstances, the Texas Supreme Court held, did not support a finding that the manufacturer purposefully availed itself of the Texas forum. Id. at 440.