In a recent opinion from the Dallas Court of Appeals, the Court affirmed the lower court’s finding that Dallas County was a proper venue for Deere & Co., or John Deere. Deere & Co. v. Bernal, Cause No. 05-22-00916-CV, 2023 Tex. App. LEXIS 261 (Tex. App.—Dallas Jan. 17, 2023, no pet. h.). Since 1999, Deere has maintained one of its Regional Distribution Centers in Dallas, Texas. The facility is a resounding 287,240 square feet. According to John Deere’s website available to public access, this location is considered a major John Deere facility, and is the only one in Texas. The Dallas Regional Distribution Center, as it is referred to, is the central hub for all Deere dealers in Texas and the region of at least Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. The purpose of the center is to directly serve all Deere dealers in the State of Texas, as it is the only one in Texas and indeed the only one for a multistate region.
Under Texas law, venue is proper for a entity-defendant like Deere in the county where the defendant maintains its “principal office” in the State of Texas. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 15.002(a)(3). For an office to be a “principal office” under the statute, the office must be led by a “decision maker;” and the office must not be subordinate to another in-state office of the defendant. Bernal, 2023 Tex. App. LEXIS 261 at *4–5. In Bernal, the plaintiffs alleged that Deere’s Regional Distribution Center was its principal office in Texas, making Dallas County a proper venue.
Deere’s Dallas Regional Distribution Center is captained by a depot manager, who manages the warehouse; an office administrator; three supervisors who run the warehouse floor; warehouse workers; an inventory analyst who handles restocking parts; two shipping coordinators who manage inbound and outbound parts; truck drivers; and maintenance employees. Id. at *11. The Court ultimately concluded that this sufficiently proved the depot manager to be a “decision maker;” and as there was no other Deere center in the state, there was no other instate office to be subordinate to or controlled by. See id. at *10–21.
The underlying case is still being litigated by firm attorneys Benny Agosto, Jr. and Ben Agosto III.
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