South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Once Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction, A Matter is Res Judicata
Description A party who has a case dismissed from state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and who lost on appeal, cannot later return to the same state court system with new claims on the same matter. The initial decision was res judicata; the state court system does not have jurisdiction.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Subject Matter Jurisdiction; Dismissal; Res Judicata
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Butler sued Continental Airlines in Texas state court for copying, and using in its computer reservation system, some macros he created. He contended that he was due compensation for writing the macros. The state trial court and court of appeals dismissed his action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the matter was under the Federal Copyright Act. Butler then sued Continental in federal court, which dismissed his suit. He then sued Continental again in another Texas state court. The trial court dismissed the suit with prejudice. Butler appealed.

Affirmed. When the case was dismissed the first time in state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, that decision was res judicata on the issue of whether any Texas state court had subject matter jurisdiction. Butler could not then reassert the same claims in the Texas court system. Butler had his chance in his first lawsuit to raise all claims, and to raise those issues on appeal. He cannot return later to the same court system with new claims brought on the same matter.

Citation Butler v. Continental Airlines, Inc., 2003 WL 21911160 (Ct. App., Tex., 2003)

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