By: Rob Harris
For golf fans, perhaps the most interesting thing about the Texas Court of Appeals recent opinion in Professional Association of Golf Officials v. Phillips Campbell & Phillips, L.L.P.A. is that there is an organization of Professional Association of Golf Officials. Indeed, there is.
As the organization describes itself in the lawsuit which it brought against its prior attorneys, PAGO “was formed as a labor union to represent the interests of tournament officials employed by PGA Tour, Inc. on any one of its three professional golf tours, PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, and Champions Tour.”
For twenty years, the defendant law firm and its predecessor represented PAGO. Alleging that its attorneys had failed to keep up with the industry, as a result of which PAGO claimed to have ”lost time and again at the bargaining table and in other matters with PGA Tour, Inc.,” PAGO terminated the Phillips law firm.
PAGO claimed that the firm did not go quietly, but rather “set out on a warpath.” demanding $100,000 in fees and refusing to turn over to PAGO its books and records.
PAGO filed suit, opting to do so in Texas, where its new attorney was located, even though the Phillips firm was located in Pennsylvania, which also was the legal residence of PAGO.
The choice of a Texas litigation venue led to a collateral skirmish as to whether the suit could appropriately be brought in Texas by PAGO. Almost two years after the lawsuit was filed, the Texas Court of Appeals has said “no”, holding that the Texas court does not have personal jurisdiction over the Phillips law firm.
Next steps for PAGO? It can try to convince the Texas Supreme Court to overturn the Court of Appeals–not likely. PAGO can refile its lawsuit in Pennsylvania, where there clearly would be jurisdiction, and a court can (finally) address the merits of PAGO’s claims. Or, with the passage of time and the presumed cooling of emotions, PAGO can attempt to negotiate a resolution with the law firm and move on.