Estate Administration


Resolving Concurrent Jurisdiction

Tovias v. Wildwood Properties Partnership, 67 S.W.3d 527 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2002, no pet.).


Heirs filed a declaration of heirship in a county court at law. Heirs also filed a wrongful death suit in the same court and under the same cause number. Later, Heirs filed a similar wrongful death suit in a district court in another county. One of the defendants filed a plea to the jurisdiction to contest the district court’s subject matter jurisdiction. The trial court granted the plea. Heirs appealed.

The appellate court reversed. The court held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over the wrongful death suit concurrently with the county court at law. Heirs should have filed a plea in abatement because the county court at law had dominant jurisdiction because Heirs filed suit in that court first. Defendant was not entitled to the greater remedy of dismissal because the district court had subject matter jurisdiction and may have been able to exercise it under certain circumstances.

Moral: The proper remedy when a suit is brought in a court with jurisdiction, albeit not dominant jurisdiction, is a plea in abatement.