SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS
IN RE PIRELLI TIRE, L.L.C.,
Original Proceeding from the 357th Judicial
District Court of Cameron County, Texas and
the Thirteenth Court of Appeals at Corpus Christi, Texas
BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE FORD MOTOR COMPANY
AND BRIDGESTONE FIRESTONE NORTH AMERICAN TIRE, LLC
Craig A. Morgan Michael W. Eady Knox D. Nunnally
State Bar No. 14435330 State Bar No. 06332400 State Bar No. 15141000
ATTORNEY AT LAW Wade C. Crosnoe Phillip B. Dye, Jr.
718 Sunfish State Bar No. 00783906 State Bar No. 06311500
Austin, Texas 78734-4410 THOMPSON, COE, COUSINS VINSON & ELKINS, L.L.P.
Telephone: (512) 608-9324 & IRONS, L.L.P. 2300 First City Tower
Facsimile: (512) 261-3628 701 Brazos 1001 Fannin Street
Suite 1500, Austin Centre Houston, Texas 77002-6760
Austin, Texas 78701 Telephone: (713) 758-2416
Telephone: (512) 703-5078 Facsimile: (713) 615-5220
Facsimile: (512) 708-8777
Counsel for Amici Curiae
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................ i
INDEX OF AUTHORITIES ......................................................................................................iii
STATEMENT OF INTEREST .................................................................................................... 1
SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT ............................................................................................ 2
ARGUMENT .......................................................................................................................... 3
I. Mexico Is an Available Forum................................................................................. 3
A. The Contention That Mexico Is Unavailable as a Forum Is Contrary
to Common Sense ............................................................................................... 3
B. The Arans’ Contention Is Contrary to the Controlling Mexican Statutes ......... 4
C. The Arans’ Contention Is Based on a Series of Ex Parte Orders and
the Opinions of a Disgraced Expert................................................................... 6
1. Leonel Pereznieto has now been sanctioned by a federal court for his
dual role in obtaining and presenting the Morelos orders............................ 7
2. The other Mexican decisions are also unreliable ....................................... 12
a. Pereznieto is the common link .............................................................. 12
b. The Mexican decisions are not precedent and do not trump
the controlling statutes ......................................................................... 13
c. Ford and Bridgestone Firestone received no notice of the
Mexican proceedings ............................................................................ 14
D. Conclusion........................................................................................................ 15
II. The U.S. Decisions Cited by the Arans Are Contrary to Established Law and
Are Distinguishable ................................................................................................ 16
A. The Arans Overlook Adverse Precedent .......................................................... 16
B. Garcia v. Ford Motor Company ...................................................................... 19
1. The Garcia decisions are exactly what they seem: a resounding defeat
for the claim that Mexico is unavailable .................................................... 19
2. The centerpiece of the Garcias’ motion for sanctions confirms
that something was amiss in Jalisco ........................................................... 22
3. The Mexican amparo court did not reject Ford’s constitutional
challenge on the merits............................................................................... 24
4. The Garcias refused to enter into an express submission agreement
with Ford and Michelin .............................................................................. 26
C. Judge Barker’s Ruling in the Federal MDL .................................................... 28
D. The Tennessee Cases........................................................................................ 30
E. Batista v. Goodyear and Mitsubishi................................................................. 32
F. Saqui v. Pride Int’l Inc. .................................................................................... 33
CONCLUSION ...................................................................................................................... 36
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE .................................................................................................. 40
INDEX OF AUTHORITIES
In re Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford Motor Co. Tire Litig.,
138 S.W.3d 202 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003)....................................................................... 30
In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., Tires Prod. Liab. Action,
420 F.3d 702 (7th Cir. 2005) ..................................................................................... 7, 8
In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. Tires Prods. Liab. Litig.,
470 F. Supp. 2d 917 (S.D. Ind. 2006)............................................................ 8, 9, 10, 27
In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. Tires Prods. Liab. Litig.,
470 F. Supp. 2d 931 (S.D. Ind. 2006)...................................................... 8, 9, 10, 11, 27
Curley v. AMR Corp.,
153 F.3d 5 (2d Cir. 1998) ............................................................................................ 14
Garcia v. Ford Motor Co.,
No. 4:05CV02197 RWS, 2007 WL 187803 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 22, 2007)........... 20, 27, 31
Garcia v. Ford Motor Co.,
No. 4:05CV02197 RWS, 2007 WL 2711600 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 14, 2007)
.............................................................................................................. 15, 20, 22, 31, 37
Gomez de Hernandez v. Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, L.L.C.,
204 S.W.3d 473 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2006, pet. denied) ............................... 18
Gonzalez v. Chrysler Corp.,
301 F.3d 377 (5th Cir. 2002) ....................................................................................... 16
Juanes v. Continental Tire North America, Inc.,
No. 05-4015-JLF, 2005 WL 2347218 (S.D. Ill. Sept. 26, 2005)..................... 18, 19, 36
Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno,
454 U.S. 235 (1981)..................................................................................................... 32
Sacks v. Four Seasons Hotel, Ltd.,
No. 5:04CV73, 2006 WL 783441 (E.D. Tex. March 24, 2006)...................... 17, 32, 33
Saqui v. Pride Int'l, Inc.,
No. G-06-CV-590, 2007 WL 528193 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 14, 2007).............. 33, 34, 35, 36
Seguros Comercial Americas S.A. v. Am. President Lines, Ltd.,
933 F. Supp. 1301 (S.D. Tex. 1996)............................................................................ 17
Taylor v. Daimler Chrysler Corp.,
196 F. Supp. 2d 428 (E.D. Tex. 2001)......................................................................... 16
Vasquez v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.,
325 F.3d 665 (5th Cir. 2003) ................................................................................. 16, 35
TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 36.005(b)(1) ........................................................... 10, 15
Ryan G. Anderson, Transnational Litigation Involving Mexican Parties, 25 St.
Mary’s L.J. 1059, 1095 (1994) .................................................................................... 14
Boris Kozolchyk and Martin L. Ziontz, A Negligence Action in Mexico: An
Introduction to the Application of Mexican Law in the United States, 7 Ariz. J.
Int’l & Comp. L. 1, 8 (1989) ....................................................................................... 13
Margarita Trevinio Balli and David S. Coale, Torts and Divorce: A Comparison of
Terms and the Mexican Federal District, 11 Conn. J. Int’l L. 29, 42 (1995) ............ 13
TO THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS:
STATEMENT OF INTEREST
Amici Curiae Ford Motor Company and Bridgestone Firestone North American
Tire, LLC are parties to a number of products liability lawsuits across the country in
which the plaintiffs, like the real parties in interest/plaintiffs here, are Mexican citizens
who were injured in automobile accidents in Mexico. The plaintiffs in each of these
cases have made a remarkable contention: the courts of their own country are
unavailable as a forum for their tort claims against foreign product manufacturers, even if
those manufacturers consent to jurisdiction in Mexico. Based on the supposed absence of
an available forum in Mexico, the plaintiffs assert that courts in the United States
therefore cannot dismiss their claims under the doctrine of forum non conveniens.
As parties to these other cases, Ford and Bridgestone Firestone are in a unique
position to inform the Court of recent developments as the issue of Mexico’s availability
as a forum has been litigated in the United States. But their interest does not stop there.
Ford and Bridgestone Firestone have learned that the real parties in interest (hereinafter
“the Arans”) recently submitted a letter brief to this Court dated August 22, 2007. The
letter touts as correct some decisions in which courts have held that Mexico is not an
available forum, while decrying other adverse decisions as wrong and ignoring still
others. Unfortunately, the letter also repeats false accusations that were made against
Ford and its attorneys in another case and, as discussed herein, have now been rejected by
the presiding judge in that case.
Ford does not want this Court to be misled by the defamatory allegations in the
Arans’ letter brief. And both Ford and Bridgestone Firestone have an interest in ensuring
that this Court is fully-informed about the origin of the theory that Mexico is an
unavailable forum for its own citizens: the opinions of an expert witness, Leonel
Pereznieto, who was recently sanctioned for his role in fraudulently obtaining orders
from Mexican courts and presenting them to courts in the United States as supposed
proof for his contention that Mexico is not an available forum. Accordingly, Ford and
Bridgestone Firestone are paying the cost of preparing this amicus brief.
SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT
The Arans’ contention, starkly stated, is that Mexico has structured its legal
system to deny its own citizens a forum to sue foreign product manufacturers for injuries
caused by their products in Mexico, even if those manufacturers consent to being sued in
Mexico. This contention is contrary to common sense, the plain terms of the controlling
Mexican statutes, and the opinion of the very expert witness the Arans relied upon in the
trial court. The Arans base this improbable claim on a series of ex parte dismissal orders
by Mexican courts that: (1) were obtained without notice to the defendants; (2) are not
precedent under Mexican law; and (3) share as a common link the involvement of Leonel
Pereznieto, who has now been sanctioned for his role as the mastermind of a fraud on the
federal courts of the United States.
In addition to relying on the ex parte Mexican dismissal orders, the Arans also cite
several decisions in which U.S. courts have concluded that Mexico is not an available
forum based on those very same dismissal orders. But the Arans disregard an established
line of Fifth Circuit cases holding that a defendant’s consent to the jurisdiction of a
Mexican court renders that court an available forum. They also ignore recent decisions
by a federal court and a Texas state court rejecting the argument that the ex parte
dismissal orders establish Mexico’s unavailability as a forum. And in one of the cases
the Arans do discuss at length, Garcia v. Ford Motor Company, the federal district court
has twice dismissed the plaintiffs’ suit in favor of a Mexican forum. That same court
recently sanctioned the plaintiffs for failing to comply with the court’s orders and for
frustrating the defendants’ efforts to have a Mexican court hear the case.
In short, the courts of Mexico are available to the Arans. The only thing
preventing them from suing Pirelli Tire in Mexico is their own stubborn unwillingness to
litigate there. This Court should not confuse the Arans’ desire to avoid the courts of their
own country with their alleged inability to use those courts.
I. Mexico Is an Available Forum
A. The Contention That Mexico Is Unavailable as a Forum Is Contrary to
The justices on this Court are not required to set aside their common sense when
they don their judicial robes. Thus, the Arans’ contention—that their own country has
denied them a forum to sue foreign manufacturers whose products allegedly injured
Mexican residents in Mexico, even if the manufacturers consent to jurisdiction—should
raise the Court’s collective eyebrows. After all, if this proposition were true, it would not
only mean that Mexican residents must retain counsel in an adjoining country on the
same continent to sue product manufactures located in the United States; it would also
mean that Mexican residents would have to cross the Pacific Ocean to sue a Chinese
product manufacturer in China, to cross the Atlantic Ocean to sue a product manufacturer
in Europe, and so forth. A moment’s reflection should reveal this proposition to be
nonsense on its face.1
The Arans clearly have not thought this through. Either that or their ultimate goal
is to have the United States serve as the courtroom for the entire world.2 Either way their
illogical contention should be viewed with skepticism, particularly when it is so contrary
to the plain terms of the controlling Mexican statutes.
B. The Arans’ Contention Is Contrary to the Controlling Mexican Statutes
The Arans and the decedent in this case were residents of the Mexican state of
Tamaulipas at the time of the accident, which occurred in Tamaulipas. Article 195 of the
Tamaulipas Code of Civil Procedure states the general rule that the courts of the state
where the defendant is domiciled have territorial competence (roughly the equivalent of
Indeed, this theory leads to even more preposterous results if it is followed where it compels itself to go. The
theory is based, after all, on Leonel Pereznieto’s interpretation of the Mexican statutes as saying that the courts of
Mexico have territorial competence to decide a tort claim only if that claim is asserted against a defendant who is
domiciled in Mexico. If the defendant has no domicile in Mexico, the theory goes, a tort claim cannot be asserted
against him in a Mexican court. Notably, if this reading of the Mexican statutes were correct, it would not permit
any exceptions. Once that language is given the interpretation that Pereznieto assumes, there is no language to be
found anywhere in the Mexican statutes that even he is willing to say creates the exceptions that would become
necessary to avoid patently ridiculous results. A Mexican citizen who was injured on a Mexican sidewalk by a car
driven by a tourist from Zaire, for example, would have to travel to Zaire to sue him. This is obviously absurd. No
rational legal system would chose to operate that way. Simple and obvious hypotheticals such as these have proven
to be highly uncomfortable for Pereznieto and for those who advocate his theory. Those advocates have tried to
avoid these obvious absurdities by engrafting the sorts of qualifiers and exceptions that would have to be found in
the Mexican statutes themselves to avoid the silly results to which their theory leads. But there are no such
qualifiers or exceptions in the Mexican statutes—not even Pereznieto is willing to say there are. There is no escape;
the theory compels preposterous results. The only sensible conclusion is that the theory is wrong.
This would raise the question posed by Justice Brister at oral argument: Why should the United States open its
courts to become the forum that the plaintiffs’ own country supposedly denied them?
personal jurisdiction) over the defendant (R.3 Tab E, Ex. 12 at 4, para. 15; R. Tab C, Ex.
5 at 10-11 and Ex. B; Pirelli Tire’s Jan. 10, 2007 letter, Ex. A at 6). But that is not all;
there are important exceptions to this rule. For example, article 194 of the Tamaulipas
Code provides that, if the defendant does not have a fixed domicile within the state or if
that domicile is unknown, the competent court to hear the plaintiff’s claims is the court
where the plaintiff is domiciled (Pirelli Tire’s Jan. 10, 2007 letter, Ex. A at 7). In other
words, the Arans can sue Pirelli Tire in Tamaulipas precisely because the Arans are
domiciled in Tamaulipas and Pirelli Tire is not. The Arans studiously avoid this simple
point. Nowhere in their voluminous briefing on the availability of a Mexican forum do
they address article 194.
Moreover, the Tamaulipas Code, like the procedural codes of every other Mexican
state, also allows the parties to extend the territorial competence of the courts in that state
by consent (Pirelli Tire’s Jan. 10, 2007 letter, Ex. A at 5-7). Under Articles 182-184 of
the Tamaulipas Code, this can be accomplished either expressly, by agreement of the
parties, or tacitly, by the plaintiff filing suit in Tamaulipas and by the defendant
answering without objecting to the court’s competence (R. Tab E, Ex. 12 at 4, para. 16;
R. Tab C, Ex. 5 at 10 and Ex. B; Pirelli Tire’s Jan. 10, 2007 letter, Ex. A at 6-7).
The Arans claim that the affidavit of the expert they relied on in the district court,
Professor Hans W. Baade, supports their contention that Mexico is not an available forum
(Aug. 22, 2007 letter at 22). This is not accurate. Professor Baade’s affidavit recognizes
that the territorial competence of a Tamaulipas court can be extended by express or tacit
“R.” refers to the Record that Pirelli Tire filed in support of its Petition for Writ of Mandamus.
agreement of the parties. Specifically, after noting that Tamaulipas courts are at the
moment without jurisdiction in this case, Baade states:
I agree with Professor Serna, however, that this matter would be submitted
to a Tamaulipas court by express or implied agreement of the parties as
provided by article 182 of the Code of Civil Procedure here referred to.
(R. Tab E, Ex. 12 at 4, para. 17). The Arans are not facing up to what their own expert
C. The Arans’ Contention Is Based on a Series of Ex Parte Orders and the
Opinions of a Disgraced Expert
The affidavit of Professor Baade was the only expert opinion the Arans presented
in response to Pirelli Tire’s forum non conveniens motion. Again, he agreed that the
territorial competence of a Tamaulipas court can be extended by express or tacit
agreement of the parties. It was not until much later—after the trial court had denied
Pirelli Tire’s forum non conveniens motion, after the court of appeals had denied
mandamus relief, and after the parties had submitted briefs on the merits in this Court—
that the Arans had an epiphany: Mexican courts purportedly lack territorial competence
over tort actions against foreign defendants, even if the defendant consents to the court’s
The Arans first made this contention in a letter brief dated September 2, 2005. As
supporting proof, they offered the affidavit of a person they characterized as a “noted
Mexican legal scholar”—Leonel Pereznieto (Sept. 2, 2005 letter at 2-3 and Ex. B). The
history of that affidavit is revealing indeed. It was originally filed in the United States
Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of Sofia Lopez de Manez, a plaintiff
who was appealing the district court’s forum non conveniens dismissal of her claims
against Ford and Bridgestone Firestone (Sept. 2, 2005 letter, Ex. B). Pereznieto’s
affidavit asserted that the courts of Mexico were unalterably closed to Ms. Manez—a
citizen and resident of Mexico whose husband was killed in a car accident in the Mexican
state of Veracruz (Sept. 2, 2005 letter, Ex. B at 7-17).
Pereznieto based this extraordinary assertion on two orders the Manez family had
obtained from Mexican courts after their suit was dismissed in the United States: (1) the
order of a trial court in the Mexican state of Morelos dismissing their lawsuit against
Ford and Bridgestone Firestone for lack of territorial competence and (2) the order of a
Morelos appellate court affirming that dismissal (Sept. 2, 2005 letter, Ex. B at 11-17). As
we now know, however, these orders were not what Pereznieto represented them to be.
1. Leonel Pereznieto has now been sanctioned by a federal court
for his dual role in obtaining and presenting the Morelos orders
The Seventh Circuit responded to this new evidence with skepticism. It first noted
that the appeal appeared to be a candidate for straightforward affirmance given the
reasonableness of the district court’s analysis of the forum non conveniens factors and the
abuse of discretion standard of review. In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., Tires Prod.
Liab. Action, 420 F.3d 702, 705 (7th Cir. 2005). The court then expressed “substantial
misgivings” about the plaintiffs’ actions in the Morelos proceedings, including (1) their
failure to notify the defendants of those proceedings, (2) their failure to advise the
Morelos courts of Ford and Bridgestone Firestone’s willingness to submit to the courts’
jurisdiction, and (3) their decision to sue in Morelos although the accident occurred in
Veracruz. Id. at 706.
Nevertheless, the Seventh Circuit concluded that it lacked an adequate record to
determine whether the plaintiffs had acted in bad faith. Id. Accordingly, it vacated the
dismissal and remanded with instructions for the district court to “thoroughly explore the
circumstances surrounding the Morelos decisions” and to feel free to dismiss the suit
again if it concluded the plaintiffs had not acted in good faith. Id. at 706-07. But the
Seventh Circuit could not have envisioned just how sordid the circumstances surrounding
the Morelos decisions would prove to be.
On remand the district court allowed discovery into the Mexican proceedings and
then, a year later, conducted a two-day evidentiary hearing. In re Bridgestone/Firestone,
Inc. Tires Prods. Liab. Litig., 470 F. Supp. 2d 917, 919 and n.3 (S.D. Ind. 2006). The
evidence presented at that hearing was eye-opening. Based on that evidence, District
Judge Sarah Barker found that:
• The plaintiffs’ U.S. attorneys hired Leonel Pereznieto to pursue plaintiffs’ claims
in Mexico. Pereznieto in turn hired two former students, Juan Carlos Guerrero
Valle and Rosa Maria Avila Fernandez, to assist him in the litigation. Id. at 920.
• The U.S. attorneys’ fee agreement with the Mexican attorneys gave the latter an
economic incentive to get the Morelos litigation dismissed by granting them a ten
percent contingent fee interest in the plaintiffs’ gross recovery.4 Id. at 923.
• The plaintiffs’ chosen forum in Morelos had no point of contact with the case
because neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants were domiciled there and the
In fact, the plaintiffs’ U.S. attorneys initially proposed that the Mexican attorneys receive a ten percent contingent
fee if they were successful in getting the Morelos suit dismissed. Id. at 923. Although the written fee agreement did
not make the fee contingent on dismissal of the case, the contingent fee interest clearly gave the Mexican attorneys
an incentive to ensure that the Morelos suit failed because of the lesser recovery available to the plaintiffs under
Mexican law. Id. at 922-23 and n.14 and 17.
accident did not happen there. Id. at 921. “Plaintiffs appear to have contrived this
‘adverse’ ruling by intentionally filing the case in a court lacking jurisdiction . . ..”
Id. at 922.
• Before filing suit in Morelos, Leonel Pereznieto sent two separate emails to
Alberto Guerrero, one of the plaintiffs’ U.S. attorneys, referring to Juan Carlos
Guerrero Valle’s “contacts” in Morelos and the need to take advantage of them.
Id. at 924 n.18. The plaintiffs’ Mexican attorneys knew from the outset that Juan
Carlos had a sister, Claudia Guerrero Valle, who worked as a secretaria de
acuerdos—a court official who must be an attorney and who is responsible for
preparing draft orders for the judge—at the Morelos trial court where the lawsuit
was filed. Id. at 923-24.
• The lawsuit was assigned to the court where Ms. Guerrero Valle worked—one of
six in Cuernevaca, Morelos—and was then assigned to her, one of three secretaria
de acuerdos at the court to whom it could have been assigned. Id. at 923-25. The
assignment of the case to her court and to her—a one in eighteen chance—was
orchestrated by plaintiffs’ Mexican attorneys to ensure a dismissal according to
their plan.5 Id. at 925, 928.
• The plaintiffs’ complaint in Morelos listed only Leonel Pereznieto and Rosa Maria
Avila Fernandez a counsel for the plaintiffs. Id. at 924-25, 927. The complaint
omitted Juan Carlos Guerrero Valle’s name as counsel even though the plaintiffs
subsequently admitted that he was the only attorney who had any contact with the
Morelos courts. Id. at 924-25, 927. Nonetheless, Claudia Guerrero Valle should
have recused herself anyway because Rosa Maria Avila Fernandez was her sister-
in-law (Juan Carlos’s wife) at that time. Id. at 925.
• “[I]n filing the case in Morelos, Mexico, the attorneys for Plaintiffs acted with the
clear purpose of having the case dismissed.” Id. at 920. For instance, Juan Carlos
Guerrero Valle sent the following “smoking gun” email to Alberto Guerrero when
the suit was filed in Morelos: “[W]e went to the Cuernevaca Morelos courthouse
to find out about the case against Firestone. The judge confirmed that she will
throw out the suit according to what was planned. The agreement of that denial
will be published next week.” Id. at 925 (emphasis added).
• The Mexican attorneys had improper contacts with the Morelos trial court,
including the following: (1) Juan Carlos met with the judge on the day the suit
was filed (see above email) even though he was not authorized to do so because he
was not listed as counsel for the plaintiffs; (2) the judge advised Juan Carlos how
This particular finding was based on not only the substantial evidence before Judge Barker but also the Mexican
attorneys’ refusal to testify to rebut or explain that evidence. Id. at 928.
she would rule (see above email) ten days before the order was officially
published6; and (3) the attorneys drafted and submitted to the court a proposed
order rejecting their lawsuit. Id. at 925-27.
• The plaintiffs “manipulated the process to insure that the dismissal would be based
on a particular reason that was calculated to improve the chances of the dismissal
being sustained on appeal.” Id. at 920. The plaintiffs’ manipulation of the
appeal is evidenced by the following email from Juan Carlos Guerrero Valle to
Alberto Guerrero: “This letter is to inform you that unofficially, the Court of
Appeals confirmed the denial of the suit in Cuernavaca. One of the magistrates is
giving us an unofficial copy of the decision on Saturday.” Id. at 927.
• “The emails between plaintiffs’ counsel leave no doubt that they purposefully
concealed the proceedings in Mexico from both the Seventh Circuit and the
defendants until it was too late for the defendants to do anything in response.” Id.
Finally, Judge Barker noted that Leonel Pereznieto played a double role in the
attempted fraud on the Seventh Circuit: as plaintiffs’ attorney in the Morelos
proceedings and as a purported expert in submitting an affidavit to the Seventh Circuit
asserting that the Morelos orders established Mexico’s unavailability as a forum. Id. at
928. Importantly, this affidavit failed to disclose either Pereznieto’s financial interest in
the case or his involvement as counsel for the plaintiffs in the Morelos proceedings (Sept.
2, 2005 letter, Ex. B). As Judge Barker observed, “The U.S. lawyers’ submission of Dr.
Pereznieto’s affidavit to the Seventh Circuit in July 2006, without disclosing that he was
interested in the outcome of the case, was surely disingenuous.” Id. at 928.
Expert testimony at the hearing established that, although ex parte communications between one side’s attorney
and the court are not necessarily prohibited in Mexico, the judge typically does not disclose how he or she will rule
during those communications. Id. at 926.
Judge Barker ultimately concluded that Mexican law did not require plaintiffs to notify Ford and Bridgestone
Firestone of the proceedings in Morelos because the suit was not admitted. Id. at 929. The point she overlooked,
however, is that regardless of whether Mexican law required notice to the defendants, United States courts have no
obligation to recognize judgments issued by foreign courts when the defendant did not receive notice of the
proceedings in sufficient time to defend. See, e.g., TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 36.005(b)(1).
Based on this overwhelming evidence, Judge Barker had “no difficulty or
hesitancy” in concluding that the Morelos orders were obtained through fraud and were
not entitled to recognition in the United States. Id. at 929. Accordingly, she dismissed
the plaintiffs’ suit again based on forum non conveniens. Id.
But that renewed dismissal order is not the end of the story. Judge Barker
subsequently sanctioned both plaintiffs’ U.S. counsel and Pereznieto for their roles in the
fraud on the court. In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. Tires Prods. Liab. Litig., 470 F.
Supp. 2d 931 (S.D. Ind. 2006). Characterizing Pereznieto as the “apparent mastermind
behind these frauds on the U.S. and Mexican courts,” she ordered him to pay $50,000 to
Ford and Bridgestone Firestone and another $50,000 to the clerk of her court. Id. at 933.
Moreover, she struck his testimony from the remaining cases in the multidistrict litigation
(“MDL”) and said that she would not consider as authority any opinions in which a court
relied upon his testimony as justification for the decision.8 Id. at 934.
This, then, is the “noted Mexican legal scholar” on whom the Arans rely to
support their claim that Mexico is not an available forum: a disgraced expert who has
been sanctioned for his dual role in perpetrating a fraud on the Seventh Circuit and on the
district court presiding over the federal MDL. Moreover, as we shall see, Manez was not
the only case cited by the Arans in which Pereznieto was involved.
Before considering those other decisions, however, it is appropriate to pause and
ponder this question: If, as the Arans and Pereznieto contend, Mexican courts truly lack
Plaintiffs’ U.S. counsel paid the sanctions entered against them ($100,000) without appeal but Pereznieto has
appealed the sanctions order to the Seventh Circuit. That appeal has been briefed and argued and is awaiting
territorial competence over foreign product manufacturers, why did Pereznieto believe it
was necessary to go to the extraordinarily-underhanded lengths he did in Manez to prove
that point? Why file the case in the wrong court where the sister of one of the plaintiffs’
attorneys worked, fail to disclose her brother’s involvement as an attorney, submit an
order rejecting the case, and purposefully conceal the proceedings from the defendants?
The Arans have no answer for these questions.
2. The other Mexican decisions are also unreliable
a. Pereznieto is the common link
The Arans also rely on a series of other similar dismissal orders from various
courts in Mexico (Sept. 2, 2005 letter at 2-4; June 2, 2006 letter at 2-3; Aug. 22, 2007
letter brief at 229). But Leonel Pereznieto was involved in every one of those cases as
well (June 2, 2006 letter at 1-3 and attached affidavit; Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. M10 at
15). Although Pereznieto did not, at least to Ford and Bridgestone Firestone’s
knowledge, resurrect his dual role as Mexican court attorney/U.S. expert in those cases,
he did serve as an expert witness on Mexican law for the plaintiffs in the corresponding
U.S. cases. Furthermore, these other Mexican orders have not been subjected to the
The August 22, 2007 letter brief references proof of thirteen Mexican trial court decisions, six of which supposedly
have been upheld on the merits on appeal, without naming those decisions (Aug. 22, 2007 letter at 22). But the
Arans appear to have submitted only ten such trial court decisions to this Court. The September 2, 2005 letter brief
tendered two—the orders from the Manez and Juan Antonio Magana Gonzalez cases (Sept. 2, 3005 letter at 3). In
yet another letter brief dated June 2, 2006, the plaintiffs purported to submit nine such decisions (Elena Rodriguez
Reyes, Sofia Lopez Abarca Manez, Rafael Garcia Donato, Felix Torres Ojeda, Samuel Guerrero Gonzales,
Sacramento Baez Flores, Shirley Ideliza Perez Xool, Jesus Antonio Montoya Guzman, and Diana Muro Ramirez)
but one of those was a duplicate: the Manez decision.
The referenced document is the Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Sanctions Against Defendants
and Defendants’ Attorneys in Garcia v. Ford Motor Co., et al.; case no. 4:05CV02197 RWS; in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. This document is available on the PACER Service Center
website (http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov) at Docket Entry 64. See also Docket Entry 24-2 (the Declaration of Leonel
Pereznieto-Castro in support of Plaintiffs’ Response and Memorandum in Support Thereof in Opposition to
Defendants’ Renewed Motion to Dismiss).
illuminating discovery that the Morelos orders were in the Manez case. Consequently, all
of these decisions should be viewed with suspicion.
b. The Mexican decisions are not precedent and do not trump
the controlling statutes
Another thing the Mexican decisions share in common is that they are not
precedent under Mexican law. In Mexico, only federal court decisions can become
precedent, and such decisions are binding precedent only if the same federal court
decides the same issue in the same way five times (Pirelli Tire’s Jan. 10, 2007 letter, Ex.
A at 12, 21). It would be strange indeed to give these decisions greater effect here than
they would be given in Mexico. But that is exactly what the Arans are asking this Court
Furthermore, the Arans’ reliance on these nonprecedential decisions, and their
corresponding disregard for the controlling Mexican statutes, reflect a profound
misunderstanding of the Mexican civil law system. As the Second Circuit has noted,
Mexico’s constitution and statutes, not case precedent, are the primary sources of law in
Mexican law is much different, and its sources do not lie in precedent
cases. As a civil law jurisdiction, Mexican courts consider the text of the
constitution, civil code and statutory provisions as the primary source of
law and give them preponderant consideration. See Boris Kozolchyk and
Martin L. Ziontz, A Negligence Action in Mexico: An Introduction to the
Application of Mexican Law in the United States, 7 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp.
L. 1, 8 (1989). . . . ‘Civil law codes tend to be much more general and
encompass a broader range of circumstances than do common law statutes.
. . . A civil code is not a list of special rules for particular situations; it is
rather a body of general principles carefully arranged and closely
integrated.’ Margarita Trevinio Balli and David S. Coale, Torts and
Divorce: A Comparison of Terms and the Mexican Federal District, 11
Conn. J. Int’l L. 29, 42 (1995); see also Ryan G. Anderson, Transnational
Litigation Involving Mexican Parties, 25 St. Mary’s L. J. 1059, 1095
(1994) (describing the Mexican law system).
Curley v. AMR Corp., 153 F.3d 5, 14 (2d Cir. 1998).
c. Ford and Bridgestone Firestone received no notice of the
Yet another thing the Mexican decisions share in common is that the defendants
received no notice of those proceedings until they were over. With one exception, the
Mexican trial court proceedings in those cases were initiated, conducted, and concluded
with no notice whatsoever to Ford or to Bridgestone Firestone. Similarly, in those cases
in which the plaintiffs chose to “appeal,” the defendants received no notice of the
appellate proceedings either.
When Ford and Bridgestone Firestone have complained about this lack of notice,
the plaintiffs’ response has always been the same: No notice was required because, under
Mexican procedure, the defendant is not notified of the lawsuit until the trial court
determines that it has jurisdiction and then admits the case. But this excuse misses the
point entirely. Regardless of what Mexican law might require, it certainly does not
prohibit a plaintiff from notifying the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed. When
plaintiffs fail to take that simple step, they cannot credibly claim later that they made a
good faith effort to invoke the jurisdiction of the Mexican court. Again, Mexican law
permits the territorial competence of a court to be extended by the express or tacit
agreement of the parties. A defendant can hardly consent to a court’s jurisdiction when it
is never made aware of the proceeding. Moreover, the decision of a Mexican court is not
enforceable in the United States against a defendant who had no notice of the proceeding.
See, e.g., TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 36.005(b)(1) (stating that a foreign court
judgment need not be recognized if the defendant did not receive notice of the
proceedings in sufficient time to defend).
The only case in which the defendants were notified of the Mexican
proceedings—the Garcia case—does not support the Arans’ position either. In that case,
a federal district court recently sanctioned the plaintiffs for acting unreasonably and
failing to comply with the court’s order to cooperate with the defendants when they
refiled their suit in Mexico. See Garcia v. Ford Motor Co., No. 4:05CV02197 RWS,
2007 WL 2711600, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 14, 2007). The court cited as two examples of
the plaintiffs’ sanctionable conduct (1) their decision to fax notice of the anticipated
filing to the defendants late on the Friday before the Labor Day holiday and (2) their
subsequent refusal to grant Michelin and Ford’s11 reasonable request for a two-week
delay so they could, among other things, retain Mexican counsel. Id. These actions, the
court concluded, were designed to frustrate the defendants’ efforts to participate in the
Mexican proceedings. Id.
In summary, the Arans’ contention that Mexico is not an available forum is
contrary to both common sense and to the plain language of the controlling Mexican
statutes. This claim is based on the opinions of an expert witness who has now been
sanctioned by a federal judge for an attempted fraud on her court and on the Seventh
Bridgestone Firestone is not a party to the Garcia case.
Circuit. The other Mexican decisions relied on by the plaintiffs are similarly tainted by
Pereznieto’s involvement as an expert witness. In any event, those decisions are not
precedent under Mexican law and should not be recognized in the United States because
the proceedings were conducted without any notice to the defendants.
II. The U.S. Decisions Cited by the Arans Are Contrary to Established Law and
A. The Arans Overlook Adverse Precedent
The Arans also cite several decisions by United States trial courts that purportedly
show Mexico is not an available forum for their claims. But the Arans overlook a line of
Fifth Circuit cases holding that Mexico is an available forum for such claims. And they
ignore recent decisions in which a federal district court and the Corpus Christi Court of
Appeals have rejected the contention that the Mexican decisions cited by the Arans prove
The Fifth Circuit and federal district courts in Texas have routinely held that
Mexico is an available forum for the claims of Mexican residents against U.S. product
manufacturers arising from accidents in Mexico, so long as the defendant agrees to
submit to the jurisdiction of the Mexican courts. See, e.g., Vasquez v.
Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 325 F.3d 665, 671 (5th Cir. 2003) (noting the district court’s
conclusion that Mexico was an available forum and the plaintiffs’ failure to dispute that
point on appeal); Gonzalez v. Chrysler Corp., 301 F.3d 377, 380 n.3 (5th Cir. 2002) (“It is
undisputed that Mexico is an amenable forum because the defendants have agreed to
submit to the jurisdiction of the Mexican courts.”); Taylor v. Daimler Chrysler Corp.,
196 F. Supp. 2d 428, 432 (E.D. Tex. 2001) (holding that Mexico was an available
alternate forum because of the defendants’ willingness to submit to the jurisdiction of
Mexican courts); Seguros Comercial Americas S.A. v. Am. President Lines, Ltd., 933 F.
Supp. 1301, 1307-08 (S.D. Tex. 1996) (holding that defendants’ stipulation that it would
submit to the jurisdiction of a Mexican court rendered that forum available).
As is apparent from these cases, until recently there was no real dispute that
Mexico was an available forum. Starting a few years ago, however, the plaintiffs’ bar
began floating the novel theory that Mexico is not an available forum for the claims of its
own citizens against foreign product manufacturers. The leading proponent of this theory
was and is none other than Leonel Pereznieto. A few courts have bought his theory,
including those discussed below and one federal district court in Texas. See Sacks v.
Four Seasons Hotel, Ltd., No. 5:04CV73, 2006 WL 783441, at *3-4, 7-8 (E.D. Tex.
March 24, 2006) (relying on Pereznieto’s opinions to hold that Mexico was not an
available forum for plaintiffs’ claims). But the Sacks court ruled before Pereznieto’s
attempted fraud on the U.S. court was exposed in Manez and, in any event, Sacks is
distinguishable because the plaintiffs in that case were citizens and residents of the
United States. Id. at *2, 8.
Moreover, other courts have not been so easily misled by Pereznieto’s theory.
One example is the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, the
Honorable Rodney Sippel presiding. As mentioned above and discussed below, Judge
Sippel has dismissed the Garcia case twice in favor of a Mexican forum and has
sanctioned the plaintiffs for their failure to comply with the requirements of those
dismissal orders regarding the refiling of the suit in Mexico.
A second example is the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals in Gomez de Hernandez
v. Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, L.L.C., 204 S.W.3d 473 (Tex. App.—
Corpus Christi 2006, pet. denied). The district court dismissed that case for forum non
conveniens and the plaintiffs appealed. Their counsel—the same attorney who represents
the Arans in this case—filed a supplemental letter brief with the court of appeals. Id. at
482 n.8. The letter cited the Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Manez and the Morelos orders
in support of plaintiffs’ claim that Mexico was unavailable. Id. But the court of appeals
rejected that argument and affirmed the forum non conveniens dismissal. Id. at 482 n.8
Yet another example of a court that has not been misled by Pereznieto is the
federal district court in Juanes v. Continental Tire North America, Inc., No. 05-4015-JLF,
2005 WL 2347218 (S.D. Ill. Sept. 26, 2005). The plaintiff in that case was a citizen and
resident of Mexico suing a tire manufacturer (Continental) and car manufacturer (Ford)
for the death of her husband in an automobile accident in Mexico. Id. at *1. The plaintiff
presented an affidavit from Leonel Pereznieto, along with the Mexican dismissal orders
from Garcia and another case, to support her claim that Mexican courts lack jurisdiction
to hear tort claims against a defendant who is not domiciled in Mexico. Id. at *2. But
the district court made an initial finding that Mexico was an available forum and
dismissed the case anyway, observing that the plaintiff could invoke the dismissal order’s
return jurisdiction clause if the Mexican court refused to take the case. Id. at *2, 6. The
court also admonished the plaintiff that she was to promptly notify the defendants if she
filed suit in Mexico. Id. at *6 and n.2.
B. Garcia v. Ford Motor Company
1. The Garcia decisions are exactly what they seem: a resounding
defeat for the claim that Mexico is unavailable
Much of the Arans’ voluminous letter briefing is devoted to the Garcia case in the
Eastern District of Missouri (Dec. 20, 2006 letter at 4-7; Aug. 22, 2007 letter at 9-20;
Oct. 2, 2007 letter at 1-5). The discussion of Garcia in these letter briefs is an extended
struggle to turn lemons into lemonade. Although the Arans assure this Court that “things
are not as they might seem” in Garcia (August 22, 2007 letter at 9), things are exactly as
they seem: the Garcia court has consistently rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that
Mexico is not an available forum. In fact, things have gotten worse for the Garcias since
the Arans submitted their August 22nd letter brief.
After reading the Arans’ mind-numbing discussions of Garcia (more than twenty-
one, single-spaced pages in all), the reader might be in danger of losing sight of the
bottom line. The bottom line is that, as of the Arans’ filing of the August 22, 2007 letter
brief, the federal district judge in Garcia had:
• granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the Garcias’ personal injury suit in
favor of a Mexican forum based on their status as citizens and residents of
Mexico and the fact that the accident occurred there, despite the claim of their
Mexican law expert, Leonel Pereznieto, that Mexico was not an available
• dismissed the case again after the Garcias attempted to invoke the return
jurisdiction clause in the court’s prior dismissal order by presenting another
Pereznieto affidavit along with ex parte orders from courts in the Mexican state
of Jalisco, as proof that Mexico was not an available forum for their claims;
• sanctioned plaintiffs’ counsel for his “game-playing” and failure to comply
with the court’s dismissal orders when filing and then refiling suit in Jalisco.
Garcia v. Ford Motor Co., No. 4:05CV02197 RWS, 2007 WL 187803, at *1-5 (E.D. Mo.
Jan. 22, 2007).
As the Arans note in their August 22, 2007 letter, the Garcias moved for
reconsideration of the sanctions order and, in what can only be described as a desperate
move, also filed a cross-motion for sanctions against Ford and Michelin (Aug. 22, 2007
letter at 13). After the filing of the Arans’ letter brief in this Court, Judge Sippel issued
an order that: (1) summarily denied the Garcias’ retaliatory cross-motion for sanctions
against Ford and Michelin; and (2) partially granted the Garcias’ motion for
reconsideration by vacating the sanctions order against their counsel based on his
contention that he lacked control over the wrongful conduct of the Mexican attorneys.
See Garcia v. Ford Motor Co., No. 4:05CV02197 RWS, 2007 WL 2711600, at *2 (E.D.
Mo. Sept. 14, 2007).
The lifting of sanctions against their United States counsel was hardly a victory for
the Garcias. In lieu of sanctioning their counsel, Judge Sippel instead imposed sanctions
directly on them because of his displeasure at their unreasonable conduct and failure to
comply with his prior dismissal orders in connection with the Jalisco suits. Id.
Specifically, Judge Sippel sanctioned the Garcias for frustrating the defendants’ efforts to
participate in the second Jalisco suit by faxing notice of the anticipated lawsuit to
defendants late on the Friday before the 2006 Labor Day holiday weekend and by
refusing to grant defendants’ reasonable request for a two-week delay. Id.
How the Arans could claim that any of these rulings are helpful to their position
here is a mystery. Yet their most recent letter brief chastises Ford, a nonparty, for failing
to bring Judge Sippel’s latest sanctions order to this Court’s attention in Ford’s recent
letter advising the Court that Ford would be submitting this amicus brief (Oct. 2, 2007
letter at 1-2 n.1). Informing the Court of all of the developments in Garcia, including the
most recent order, is one of the very purposes of this amicus brief. And there is no
escaping the fact that all of Judge Sippel’s rulings in Garcia—from his two dismissals in
favor of a Mexican forum to his most recent sanctions order—categorically reject the
Arans’ assertion that Mexico does not offer an available forum to hear their claims.
What the Arans are really attempting is a not-so-subtle effort to have this Court
reconsider the rulings of a federal district court in Missouri. That is the reason they have
improperly attached filings and evidence from the Garcia case to their letter brief and
refer to Judge Sippel’s rulings as “demonstrably flawed,” “clearly erroneous,” and “quite
suspect” (Aug. 22, 2007 letter at 15, 17, 20). It is, of course, permissible for the Arans to
argue that Judge Sippel was wrong. It is another matter entirely, however, for them to
selectively present evidence from Garcia—evidence that is not properly part of the
mandamus record in this case—as supposed proof that he was wrong. And no matter
how strenuously the Arans protest otherwise, Judge Sippel was not wrong in: (1)
dismissing the claims of Mexican citizens, arising from an accident in Mexico, in favor of
a Mexican forum; (2) refusing to allow the Garcias to circumvent his first dismissal order
by filing suit in Mexico with no notice to defendants; and (3) sanctioning the Garcias for
failing to comply with his order that they cooperate with defendants in refiling the suit in
2. The centerpiece of the Garcias’ motion for sanctions confirms
that something was amiss in Jalisco
Although there is too much in the Arans’ various letter briefs about Garcia to
respond to everything, three additional points merit mention. First, in response to Ford’s
letter advising this Court that Ford intended to submit an amicus brief to rebut the serious
accusations in the August 22, 2007 letter brief, the Arans now feign surprise that Ford
would be offended. They claim their earlier letter brief merely noted that the Garcias had
filed a motion for sanctions and repeated some of the allegations it contained (Oct. 2,
2007 letter at 1-2 n.1). This is not accurate. The earlier letter brief went well beyond
merely repeating the Garcias’ defamatory assertions that Ford engaged in “a scheme of
deceit and misrepresentation” and “blatant lies” (Aug. 22, 2007 letter at 13). The Arans
also opined that the Garcias had presented “clear and uncontroverted evidence” and
“damning proof” in support of their motion, including the “extraordinary and
unprecedented sworn declaration” of the Mexican trial judge who dismissed the second
suit in Jalisco (Aug. 22, 2007 letter at 13-14).
As we now know, Judge Sippel was not nearly so impressed with this supposedly
damning proof as the Arans appear to be. He summarily denied the motion for sanctions
that this proof was meant to support. Garcia, 2007 WL 2711600, at *2. Ford does agree,
however, that the affidavit the Garcias procured from a sitting Mexican trial judge was
indeed “extraordinary and unprecedented”—suspiciously so.
The sworn declaration of Judge Armando Garcia Estrada, filed in support of the
Garcias’ Motion for Sanctions, claimed that four or five unnamed attorneys purporting to
represent Ford and Michelin appeared before him shortly after the Garcias filed their
second lawsuit in Jalisco, and that they aggressively urged him to accept the case (Aug.
22, 2007 letter, Ex. 1 to Ex. M at 3-7). The declaration was apparently offered to rebut
the defendants’ complaint that the Garcias had denied their request for a two-week delay
in filing suit in Mexico so that Ford and Michelin could, among other things, retain and
properly authorize Mexican counsel to appear for them. The Arans’ letter brief gives
only part of the story; it does not mention the evidence Ford presented to refute this
declaration. In particular, Ford presented affidavits from the Mexico City attorneys
whom it hired to defend the case, as well as an affidavit from their local counsel in
Jalisco, in which each of these lawyers unequivocally denied having appeared before
Judge Estrada at any time before he dismissed the case on September 19, 2007.12
The threshold point, however, is that it was improper for the Garcias to have
procured this sworn declaration from a sitting judge to begin with. This is especially true
when the declaration contained not only (incorrect) factual assertions about when Ford’s
attorneys appeared before him, but also a lengthy diatribe against Ford’s expert witness
and an extended discussion of the judge’s opinions about why he supposedly lacked
These affidavits are available on the PACER Service Center website (http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov) at Docket
Entries 70-3, 70-4 and 70-5 in the Garcia case.
jurisdiction over Ford (Aug. 22, 2007 letter brief at 17-18; Ex. 1 to Ex. M at 5-7). In
giving what amounted to a judicial expert opinion on behalf of one litigant against
another, Judge Estrada called into question his judicial independence and confirmed the
suspicion that something was amiss in the Jalisco proceedings. The Garcias never should
have obtained such a declaration from a sitting judge. And the Arans should know better
than to rely on it here.
3. The Mexican amparo court did not reject Ford’s constitutional
challenge on the merits
Another troubling aspect of the Arans' description of the Garcia case is their
insistence that a Mexican federal court rejected Ford’s constitutional amparo challenge to
Judge Estrada’s ruling (Aug. 18, 2007 letter at 18-20). This is not accurate. After
learning of Judge Estrada’s dismissal of the Garcias’ second lawsuit, Ford petitioned
Judge Estrada for permission to appeal to the state appellate court: the Jalisco Superior
Court. As discussed below, because of that appellate court’s reasoning in rejecting the
Garcias’ ex parte appeal from the dismissal of their first lawsuit, Ford had good reason to
believe that an appeal to that court from the second dismissal order would have been
successful. But Ford never got the chance to make that argument to the appellate court
because Judge Estrada refused to allow the appeal (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. 13 to Ex. K).
Foreclosed by Judge Estrada from pursuing an ordinary appeal, Ford decided to
pursue an amparo challenge to the ruling in the Mexican federal courts. A federal circuit
court in Mexico—the Third Civil Collegiate Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Circuit in
Guadalajara, Jalisco (“the Circuit Court”)—ultimately denied Ford’s amparo petition
challenging Judge Estrada’s refusal to admit Ford’s appeal (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. A-2
to Ex. N). As the Circuit Court’s opinion reflects, however, the court based its decision
solely on its conclusion that Ford lacked standing to appeal because it had not been
harmed by the trial court’s refusal to allow Ford to appeal the dismissal of a lawsuit
Specifically, the Circuit Court noted that the trial court rejected Ford’s appeal on
two grounds: (1) denying the appeal would not harm Ford because the trial court had
declined to admit the suit against Ford; and (2) enforcing the trial court’s judgment would
not cause the requisite irreparable harm to Ford since the trial court declined to accept
jurisdiction over the suit (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. A-2 to Ex. N at 70). The Circuit
Court agreed with the first of these grounds, observing that the trial court’s “decision to
decline to accept jurisdiction over the appeal, is not prejudicial to the legal circumstances
of the appellant, because it did not accept the lawsuit claiming civil responsibility on the
part of the appellant.” Id. at 71. The Circuit Court also agreed with the second ground,
concluding that there was no final judgment causing irreparable harm to Ford because the
trial court never accepted jurisdiction in the first place. Id. at 72-73.
The Circuit Court did not say the trial court was correct in dismissing the
plaintiffs’ case; it did not address that issue at all. It instead explained that, because Ford
had not been harmed by the dismissal, it was unnecessary to determine whether that
dismissal was correct: “This [the stated grounds for denying the appeal] prevents an
examination of the arguments adduced concerning territorial jurisdiction, as a discussion
of the proper forums conveniens to hear the matter would lead nowhere, since the
grounds for denying the appeal would prevail regardless.” Id. at 74 (parenthetical
At most, the Circuit Court’s opinion establishes that a defendant lacks standing to
challenge an order dismissing a lawsuit against it. As the opinion also makes clear,
however, the Garcias themselves would have had standing to challenge the dismissal of
their suit. Tellingly, they declined Ford’s and Michelin’s request that they appeal.13
4. The Garcias refused to enter into an express submission
agreement with Ford and Michelin
There is one final point about Garcia that should also be brought to the Court’s
attention. After Judge Sippel dismissed the suit in his court for a second time and the
Garcias notified Ford and Michelin that they intended to refile in Jalisco, Ford and
Michelin requested that the Garcias sign a written agreement in which all parties would
consent to the jurisdiction of a Jalisco court. Ford and Michelin had good reason to
believe that such an agreement would work based on the language of the Jalisco Code
and the reasoning of the Jalisco Superior Court denying the Garcias’ appeal from the
dismissal of their first lawsuit.
In that appeal, the Jalisco Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the
initial suit against Ford and Michelin (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. 12 to Ex. K).
Nonetheless, even in that entirely ex parte proceeding, the Superior Court confirmed that
the parties could have expressly submitted to the territorial competence of a Jalisco court
by complying with Article 157 of the Jalisco Code of Civil Procedure and precisely
See Defendants Michelin North America, Inc. and Ford Motor Company’s Supplement of Their Motion for
Sanctions Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and Exs. 1-4 in the Garcia case, available on the PACER Service Center
website (http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov) at Docket Entries 43-1 through 43-5.
designating the specific court to which they consented to submit. Id. at 12-13.
According to the court, the defendants’ stipulation to the jurisdiction of unspecified
“courts in Mexico” was not sufficiently specific to comply with Article 157. Id. Thus, in
an appeal in which only the Garcias had the opportunity to be heard, the Jalisco Superior
Court acknowledged that parties can expressly submit to the jurisdiction of a Jalisco court
by complying with Article 157. Judge Sippel subsequently relied on the Jalisco Superior
Court’s opinion in dismissing the U.S. suit for a second time so that the requirements of
Article 157 could be met in Jalisco. See Garcia, 2007 WL 187803, at *1-2.
But when Michelin’s counsel sent the Garcias’ attorney a proposed express
submission agreement complying with Article 157, he flatly refused to even consider it.14
This refusal rightfully gave Judge Sippel “the impression that Plaintiffs were again doing
what they could to obstruct Defendants’ efforts to get the Jalisco Court to exercise
jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs’ lawsuit.” Garcia, 2007 WL 187803, at *4. And this
refusal should tell the Court all it needs to know about the sincerity of the Garcias’
contention that the courts of Mexico were unavailable to them. In making that claim,
while simultaneously refusing even to consider an obviously-available avenue under
Mexican law to have their suit heard in Mexico, the Garcias confused their lack of desire
to litigate in Mexico with an inability to litigate there. See In re Bridgestone/Firestone,
Inc. Tires Prods. Liab. Litig., 470 F. Supp. 2d at 922 n.13 (“Plaintiffs’ desire to litigate in
See Defendants Michelin North America, Inc. and Ford Motor Company’s Reply in Support of Their Motion for
Sanctions Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and Exs. 4-5 thereto in the Garcia case, available on the PACER Service
Center website (http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov) at Docket Entries 37-5 and 37-6.
a foreign state is not the same as their ability to do so”). Notably, an express submission
agreement has not been tried in any of the other Mexican cases that the Arans cite either.
Finally, the Garcias’ refusal to consider an express submission agreement again
raises questions similar to those posed earlier about Pereznieto’s fraudulent activity in the
Manez case: If the Garcias were so confident that the courts of Jalisco lacked jurisdiction
over their claims, why would they refuse to execute the express submission agreement
prepared by Ford and Michelin? Why the game-playing in giving late notice of that
second suit and refusing the defendants’ reasonable request for a two-week delay? And
why the lack of any notice to Ford and Michelin when the Garcias filed suit in Jalisco for
the first time?
C. Judge Barker’s Ruling in the Federal MDL
The Arans also rely on Judge Barker’s recent unpublished order denying Ford and
Bridgestone Firestone’s forum non conveniens motions in other cases pending in the
federal MDL based on her conclusion that the defendants failed to meet their burden of
establishing Mexico’s unavailability as a forum (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. E at 10). Ford
and Bridgestone Firestone have asked Judge Barker to reconsider that ruling and that
motion is still pending. Unlike the Arans, however, Ford and Bridgestone Firestone will
not attempt to attach that motion and its evidence to this filing and effectively ask this
Court to reconsider Judge Barker’s decision. Ford and Bridgestone Firestone will instead
merely observe that Judge Barker erred in giving decisive weight to the ex parte Mexican
dismissal orders—orders that are not precedent under Mexican law—and disregarding the
relevant statutes, which are controlling under Mexico’s civil law system.15 Id. at 5-8.
Again, the codes of every Mexican state allow the territorial competence of a court to be
extended by express or implied agreement of the parties (Pirelli Tire’s Jan. 10, 2007
letter, Ex. A at 5-6).
Furthermore, in explaining the apparent inconsistency between her dismissal of
the Manez case and her refusal to dismiss other MDL cases, Judge Barker noted that the
plaintiffs in Manez essentially conceded in her court that Mexico was an available forum
(before reversing field and presenting Pereznieto’s affidavit and the Morelos orders while
the case was on appeal) (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. E at 4). In contrast, Judge Barker
observed, the plaintiffs in the other cases vigorously contested Mexico’s availability. Id.
Based on that distinction, this case is more analogous to Manez than the other cases
addressed in Judge Barker’s latest order. After all, the Arans’ lone expert witness in the
trial court, Professor Baade, conceded that the jurisdiction of a Tamaulipas court could be
extended by express or implied agreement of the parties (R. Tab E, Ex. 12 at 4, para. 17).
In other words, Judge Barker’s latest ruling is both wrong and distinguishable. It
should not lead this Court to conclude that a Mexican court would lack territorial
competence when the Arans’ own expert disagrees.
The Arans mistakenly contend that Ford and Bridgestone Firestone relied solely on the opinions of their expert
witness in the federal MDL cases (Aug. 22, 2007 letter at 8). Ford and Bridgestone Firestone relied first and
foremost on the plain language of the controlling Mexican statutes. The also relied on court precedent and other
authorities attached to their expert’s affidavit, as well as the admissions of Leonel Pereznieto at his deposition in the
Texas state MDL proceedings.
D. The Tennessee Cases
The Arans also rely on the recent orders of a Tennessee trial judge in a number of
cases filed by Mexican citizens against Ford and Bridgestone Firestone (Aug. 22, 2007
letter at 3-4; Dec. 20, 2006 letter at 8-9). That trial judge originally denied the
defendants’ forum non conveniens motions several years ago, only to have the Court of
Appeals of Tennessee reverse that decision and dismiss the cases on its own authority.
See In re Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford Motor Co. Tire Litig., 138 S.W.3d 202, 210
(Tenn. Ct. App. 2003). In holding that the trial court abused its discretion, the court of
appeals concluded that the courts of Mexico were available to the plaintiffs. Id. at 206-
After the Supreme Court of Tennessee denied review, some of the plaintiffs filed
lawsuits in Mexico, without notice to the defendants, and obtained dismissal orders (June
2, 2006 letter at 2-3, Exs. A and D-J). All of the original plaintiffs then refiled their
lawsuits in the same Tennessee trial court, arguing that the Mexican orders proved the
courts of that country were unavailable to them (Dec. 20, 2006 letter, Ex. D at 2). The
defendants moved to dismiss those lawsuits based on res judicata and collateral estoppel.
They contended that the ruling by the Tennessee Court of Appeals three years earlier,
holding that Mexico was an available forum for these same plaintiffs asserting these same
claims, was a final determination that could not be relitigated. Id. at 2-3. Thus, the issue
of whether the Mexican courts were indeed “available” was not before the court in its
recent ruling; the question before the court was only whether that issue could be
The trial court denied the motions to dismiss. In doing so, however, the trial court
observed in dicta that, based on the Mexican dismissal orders, it appeared that no
alternate forum existed in Mexico. Id. at 4-5. The court noted that, in reaching this
conclusion, it was most persuaded by the Jalisco trial court’s order in the Garcia case.
Id. As this Court may recall, Judge Sippel was so impressed by this order that he
sanctioned the Garcias after they brought it to his attention.16 Garcia, 2007 WL
2711600, at *2. In any event, the Tennessee trial court subsequently granted defendants’
motion for permission to seek interlocutory appeal and clarified in a written order that the
issues for appeal would be (1) whether the issue of Mexico’s availability as a forum
could be relitigated and (2) whether the absence of a return jurisdiction clause in the
original order prevented the plaintiffs from refiling their lawsuits (Aug. 22, 2007 letter,
Ex. C at 1-2). The Tennessee Court of Appeals has granted the defendants’ application
for interlocutory appeal, and that appeal is now in the process of being briefed.
In summary, the Tennessee Court of Appeals has held in a published opinion that
Mexico is an available forum for the tort claims of Mexican citizens against Ford and
Bridgestone Firestone. The trial judge whom that opinion reversed subsequently
concluded in an unpublished opinion, in dicta, that Mexico is not available. He has
certified his order for interlocutory appeal, and that appeal is now pending. This Court is
Because his order is not entirely clear, it is possible that the Tennessee trial judge could have been referring to the
first dismissal by a Jalisco trial court rather than the subsequent dismissal by another Jalisco trial court. If so, Judge
Sippel was so impressed by the first order that he dismissed the Garcias’ U.S. lawsuit for a second time after the
Garcias used the order to attempt to invoke the return jurisdiction clause in his prior dismissal order. Garcia, 2007
WL 187803, at *1-2.
not required to, nor should it, give any weight to dicta in the unpublished opinion of a
Tennessee trial judge.
Finally, this Court should not overlook the fact that the plaintiffs’ expert witness in
the Tennessee cases was—once again—Leonel Pereznieto (June 2, 2006 letter at 1).
E. Batista v. Goodyear and Mitsubishi
The Arans also cite an unpublished decision by a federal district court in Nevada
in Efren Batista, et al. v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires of North America, LLC, et al. (Aug. 22,
2007 letter at 4-5, Ex. D). That suit was filed by four United States citizens residing in
Nevada and two Mexican citizens, and arose from an automobile accident in the Mexican
state of Sonora (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. D at 1-2). Although the majority of the
plaintiffs resided in Nevada, the two defendants—Goodyear and Mitsubishi—filed a
motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens. Id. at 1. Given the considerable
deference afforded to a resident plaintiff’s choice of his or her state of residence as a
forum, see Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255-56 (1981), it is no surprise that
the district court denied the motion to dismiss. Indeed, the court’s order denying the
motion to dismiss notes that the majority of the plaintiffs were Nevada residents and cites
the strong presumption in favor of their choice of forum (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. D at 2
Nevertheless, the court also chose to address the availability of Mexico as an
alternate forum. The court concluded that the defendants had failed to meet their burden
of establishing Mexico’s availability, citing the Sacks decision (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex.
D at 4). Again, the district court in Sacks relied heavily on the opinions of the plaintiffs’
Mexican law expert in that case, Leonel Pereznieto, in determining that Mexico was not
an available forum for those plaintiffs. Sacks v. Four Seasons Hotel Ltd., No. 5:04CV73,
2006 WL 783441, at *3-4, 7-8 (E.D. Tex. March 24, 2006). And the ruling in Sacks was
issued before Judge Barker’s damning opinion documenting Pereznieto’s fraudulent
conduct in Manez.
The district court in Batista also relied on the affidavit of plaintiffs’ Mexican law
expert, Adalberto Chavez Bustos (Aug. 22, 2007 letter, Ex. D at 3-4). He in turn relied in
part on the decision of the Superior Court of Morelos in the Manez case—the very same
decision that, according to Judge Barker, was procured by fraud.17 Worse still, Bustos’
affidavit cited that decision as proof that Mexico is not an available forum without
disclosing Judge Barker’s opinion in which she refused to recognize that appellate
decision and the dismissal order it affirmed because they were obtained by fraud.
F. Saqui v. Pride Int’l Inc.
The Arans also rely on an unpublished decision by United States District Judge
Sam Kent. See Saqui v. Pride Int’l, Inc., No. G-06-CV-590, 2007 WL 528193 (S.D. Tex.
Feb. 14, 2007). In Saqui, Judge Kent denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit
arising from the deaths of two Mexican nationals in an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of
Mexico. Id. at *1. The court concluded that the defendants had failed to meet their
burden of proving that Mexico was an available forum. Id. at *3.
This affidavit is available on the PACER Service Center website (http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov) at Docket Entry
46-4 in the Batista case. The discussion of the Morelos order is on pages 2 and 4 of the affidavit and the order is Ex.
3 to the affidavit.
The reasoning underlying Judge Kent’s conclusion is both suspect and inapposite
here. First, the court noted that the plaintiffs had presented testimony from an
international law professor and a Mexican law professor to support their position that
Mexican courts lacked jurisdiction. Id. at *2. Judge Kent also observed that the
defendants had presented the affidavit of “an equally credible practitioner of Mexican
law” who reached the opposite conclusion. Id. The court did not, however, attempt to
resolve this conflict in expert testimony and determine what Mexican law actually is.
Instead, the court inexplicably held that the defendants had failed to meet their burden of
proving that Mexico offered an available forum in light of the “equally plausible and
arguable premises” presented by the parties. Id. Thus, Judge Kent’s ruling appears to
stand for the dubious proposition that, if the plaintiff can present a plausible expert
claiming that Mexico is not available, the defendant’s forum non conveniens motion must
be denied—regardless of what evidence the defendant presents.
Furthermore, there is a crucial distinction between Saqui and this case. The theory
that plaintiffs’ experts advanced in Saqui—the one that Judge Kent found to be equally
plausible as the defendants’ contrary theory—was that the plaintiffs’ decision to sue in
the United States permanently preempted the jurisdiction of Mexican courts. Id. at *2.
The Arans have not advanced that same argument here. And even assuming that they had
and that this theory were correct, it is difficult to understand why a foreign citizen should
wield the power to trump the forum non conveniens doctrine in the United States by the
unilateral act of filing suit in the wrong country. If a foreigner holds the unilateral power
to make the courts of his home country unavailable merely by filing suit in the United
States, the forum non conveniens doctrine will cease to exist. Pereznieto, and the
attorneys who hire him, will then have succeeded in their quest to make the United States
the courtroom for the world.
Judge Kent’s order also included a footnote expressing concern about whether the
parties could create jurisdiction by consent in Mexico and the lack of a guarantee that a
Mexican court would take the case. Id. at *2 n.2. Regardless of what proof Judge Kent
had before him, however, Pirelli Tire has established through expert testimony that the
territorial competence of a Taumalipas court can be extended by express or tacit
agreement of the parties (R. Tab C, Ex. 5 at 10 and Ex. B). In fact, one of the Arans’
Mexican law experts, Hans Baade, agrees with this very point (R. Tab E, Ex. 12 at 4,
para. 17). In any event, Judge Kent could have easily addressed this hypothetical concern
by including in his dismissal order a return jurisdiction clause—a clause providing that
the plaintiffs could refile their suit in his court if the Mexican court refused to hear the
plaintiffs’ case despite their legitimate and good faith efforts to invoke the Mexican
court’s jurisdiction. See Vasquez v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 325 F.3d 665, 675 (5th
Cir. 2003) (noting that a return jurisdiction clause remedies any concern that the foreign
court will not take the case).
Similarly, to the extent that this Court has any similar concern about whether the
Arans can sue Pirelli Tire in Mexico, it need not deny mandamus relief based on that
concern. The Court should instead grant mandamus relief and direct the district court to
dismiss the case and include such a return jurisdiction clause in the dismissal order. This
was the approach taken by the district court in the Juanes case. Juanes, 2005 WL
2347218, at *2.
Finally, Judge Kent’s order refers to the plaintiffs’ experts as an international law
professor and Mexican law professor but does not name them. The international law
professor is Henry Saint Dahl.18 Professor Dahl’s affidavit expressly relies on and
attaches the affidavit of a person he describes as “one of Mexico’s leading authorities in
conflict of laws and in comparative law”—none other than Professor Leonel Pereznieto.19
And Pereznieto’s affidavit in turn relies on the orders of the Morelos courts in Manez—
the same orders that we now know he obtained by fraud.20
All roads for the claim that Mexico is not an available forum truly lead back to
Leonel Pereznieto. This Court should not give any credence to his opinions, or to any
decision based on those opinions. In short, he cannot be believed. He has no credibility
in light of his proven role (1) as an attorney in obtaining fraudulent orders from the courts
of Morelos and (2) as an expert witness in presenting them to the Seventh Circuit in
Manez as proof that the courts of Mexico are unavailable, without disclosing either his
financial interest in the case or his involvement in the Morelos proceedings.
Pereznieto’s theory is incredible on its face and compels absurd results for which
the advocates of his theory have no answer. Setting aside the opinions of this disgraced
This affidavit is available on the PACER Service Center website (http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov) at Docket Entry
14-2 in the Saqui case.
See Doc. No. 14-2 at 3-4 on the PACER system in Saqui.
See Docket Entry 14-5 on the PACER Service Center website (http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov). In fairness to
Professor Dahl, it appears that he submitted his affidavit shortly before Judge Barker’s opinion documenting
Pereznieto’s fraud on her court and the Seventh Circuit in Manez. Perenieto, however, was obviously aware of the
circumstances surrounding the Moreles orders since he was directly involved in those proceedings.
expert, the only other support for this illogical contention is a series of ex parte dismissal
orders21 that are not precedent under Mexican law and that contradict the Mexican
statutes. Moreover, these orders do no more than show that a plaintiff who does not want
his case to proceed in Mexico can secretly file a petition in a Mexican court, avoid the
steps that would invoke the court’s jurisdiction, plead the case badly, and manage to get
the case dismissed before the defendant can do anything about it. But this does not
establish that the courts of Mexico are unavailable to plaintiffs who truly seek to use
those courts. The Mexican statutes say those courts are available.
It is those statutes, not the ex parte dismissal orders, that control under Mexico’s
civil law system. As established by Pirelli Tire’s expert and acknowledged by Professor
Baade, the Taumalipas Code allows the parties to extend the territorial competence of a
Tamaulipas court by express or implicit agreement. Furthermore, the Arans can invoke
the territorial competence of a Tamaulipas court, without necessity of any agreement
between the parties, simply because they are domiciled there and Pirelli Tire is not.
Thus, the courts of Tamaulipas are available to the Arans if they want them to be. Their
lack of desire to litigate in those courts does not make those courts unavailable for
purposes of the forum non conveniens doctrine.
Accordingly, this Court should conclude that Mexico is an available forum and
issue a writ of mandamus directing the district court to dismiss this lawsuit under the
doctrine of forum non conveniens. Even if the Court has some lingering doubt about
As previously noted, in the only case in which the defendants were given notice of the proceedings in Mexico—
the Garcia case—a United States District court recently sanctioned the plaintiffs for failing to comply with his
dismissal order and frustrating the defendants’ attempts to have the courts of Jalisco assume jurisdiction over the
parties. Garcia, 2007 WL 2711600, at *2.
Mexico’s availability as a forum, it should order this case dismissed with a return
jurisdiction clause. If the Arans timely notify Pirelli Tire of any lawsuit filed in Mexico
and make a good faith attempt to invoke the jurisdiction of a Tamaulipas court, there
should be no need for them to rely on the return jurisdiction clause. But if they do invoke
that clause, the district court can evaluate whether the dismissal in Mexico truly was the
product of a good faith attempt to sue there.
Craig A. Morgan
State Bar No. 14435330
ATTORNEY AT LAW
Austin, Texas 78734-4410
Telephone: (512) 608-9324
Facsimile: (512) 261-3628
Michael W. Eady
State Bar No. 06332400
Wade C. Crosnoe
State Bar No. 00783906
THOMPSON, COE, COUSINS & IRONS L.L.P.
Suite 1500, Austin Centre
Austin, Texas 78701
Telephone: (512) 703-5078
Facsimile: (512) 708-8777
Counsel for Amicus Curiae Ford Motor Company
Knox D. Nunnally
State Bar No. 15141000
Phillip B. Dye, Jr.
State Bar No. 06311500
VINSON & ELKINS L.L.P.
2300 First City Tower
1001 Fannin Street
Houston, Texas 77002-6760
Telephone: (713) 758-2416
Facsimile: (713) 615-5220
Counsel for Amicus Curiae Bridgestone Firestone
North American Tire, LLC
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I certify that a true and correct copy of this brief was served on all counsel of
record and the respondent via certified mail, return receipt requested, on this 22nd day of
Debora B. Alsup
Thompson & Knight, LLP
98 San Jacinto Boulevard, Suite 1900
Austin, Texas 78701-4238
Counsel for Relator
C. Vernon Hartline, Jr.
Hartline, Dacus, Barger, Dreyer & Kern, L.L.P.
6688 North Central Expressway, Suite 1000
Dallas, Texas 75206
Counsel for Relator
Eduardo R. Rodriguez
Joseph A. Rodriguez
Rodriguez, Colvin, Chaney & Saenz, L.L.P.
1201 East Van Buren
Brownsville, Texas 78522
Counsel for Relator
The Honorable Leonel Alejandro
Judge Presiding, 357th District Court
Cameron County Courthouse, 3rd Floor
974 E. Harrison Street
Brownsville, Texas 78520
Victor M. Carrera
Reed, Carrera & McLain, L.L.P.
1 Paseo Del Prado, Building 101
Edinburg, Texas 78539
Counsel for Real Parties in Interest