File: 060996F - From documents transmitted: 08/10/2007
REVERSE and REMAND and Opinion Filed August 10, 2007

In The
Court of Appeals
Fifth District of Texas at Dallas
No. 05-06-00996-CV
On Appeal from the County Court No. 2
Dallas County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 06-01885-B
Before Justices Wright, Richter, and Lang
Opinion By Justice Wright
        Affiiated Computer Services, Inc. appeals the no-answer default judgment rendered against ACS in a lawsuit filed by Katherine Weeks. In three issues, ASC contends the trial court lacked jurisdiction because it was not properly served, or in the alternative, the default judgment should be set aside under Craddock v. Sunshine Bus Lines, Inc., 134 Tex. 388, 133 S.W.2d 124 (1939). We sustain ACS's first issue and reverse the trial court's judgment.

        While Weeks was working for ACS, she slipped and fell in the breakroom. She later sued ACS for negligence. Weeks served ACS a copy of the citation by delivering it to Shirley Dillon, at CT Corporation System, the agent on file with the Texas Secretary of State. ACS did not answer and, after a hearing to prove damages, the trial court entered a default judgment for $1,200,000.         After receiving a copy of the default judgment, ACS filed a motion to set it aside. ACS alleged, among other things, the default should be set aside because it was never served on ACS. According to ACS, Weeks effected service on an inactive ACS entity, one which ceased existence in 1994, ten years before Weeks's injury. ACS explained that a series of mergers resulted in an ACS entity which was terminated in 1994 and an active ACS which continues to do business in Texas. CT Corporation System is listed as the registered agent for the “terminated” ACS, while Corporation Service Company is the registered agent for the “active” ACS. ACS explained that both listings are contained in the State's records, with the status respectively showing “terminated” or “active.” ACS additionally alleged in its motion that, after serving the petition on CT Corporation, CT Corporation sent Weeks a letter informing her that it had searched its records and the State's records, and “determined that CT Corporation System is not the registered agent for an entity by the name of Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. . . . Accordingly, we are returning the documents received from you.” ACS supported its motion with, among other evidence, printouts from the Texas Secretary of State's website, the termination filing for ACS, the filing certificate for a new entity also named ACS, the Change of Registered Agent filing, and an affidavit from Beatrice Casarez, a service process manager for CT Corporation System.
        Weeks responded to ACS's motion to set aside the default judgment arguing that ACS chose to maintain “two identical registrations for foreign corporations with identical names of Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.” and she served one of those agents. After a hearing, the trial court denied ACS's motion to set aside the default judgment. This appeal followed.

        In its first issue, ACS contends the trial court's jurisdiction was not validly invoked because it was never served with process. In particular, ACS argues the petition was sent to the registered agent for the “terminated” ACS and was returned to Weeks. ACS further contends Weeks did not serve its current registered agent and ACS did not receive notice of the lawsuit before the default judgment was entered. After reviewing the record, we agree with ACS.
         On direct appeal from a default judgment, the record must affirmatively show that the trial court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant. See Infra-Pak (Dallas), Inc. v. Narmour, 852 S.W.2d 565, 566 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1992, no pet.). There are two essential elements of personal jurisdiction. First, the defendant must be amenable to the court's jurisdiction and, second, the plaintiff must validly invoke that jurisdiction by valid service of process on the defendant. Kawasaki Steel Corp. v. Middleton, 699 S.W.2d 199, 200 (Tex. 1985). When, as here, the default judgment is attacked on improper service grounds, the record must show strict compliance with the rules relating to proper service. Allodial Ltd. Partnership v. Susan Barilich, P.C., 184 S.W.3d 405, 408 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006, no pet.); 14850 Quorum Associates, Ltd. v. Moore Bus. Forms, Inc., 7 S.W.3d 166, 168 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1998, no pet.). Service may be made on a foreign corporation through its president, any vice presidents, or a registered agent of the corporation. Tex. Bus. Corp. Act ann. art. 8.10 (Vernon Supp. 2006). Thus, in this case, due process requires a showing that CT Corporation System was a proper party to receive service for ACS. See Infra-Pak, 852 S.W.2d at 566; NBS Southern, Inc. v. Mail Box, Inc., 772 S.W.2d 470, 471 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1989, writ denied).
        The record shows that CT Corporation System was listed with the Secretary of State as the registered agent for ACS. However, the status of the corporation on that listing is shown as “terminated.” The Secretary of State's records also contains a listing for ACS with an “active” status. That listing shows Corporation Service Company as the registered agent for ACS. Under these circumstances, we cannot conclude the record in this case shows CT Corporation System was a proper party to receive service for ACS. We sustain ACS's first issue.
        Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand for further proceedings.

                                                          CAROLYN WRIGHT


File Date[08/10/2007]
File Name[060996F]
File Locator[08/10/2007-060996F]