Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren
APPEAL FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
Evan Price II, for plaintiff-appellant
Bricker & Eckler LLP, Jeffrey P. McSherry, Pramila A.
Kamath, for defendant-appellee
1} Plaintiff-appellant, Priconics, LLC, appeals the
decision of the Warren County Court of Common Pleas granting
a motion to dismiss in favor of defendant-appellee, Amperor,
Inc. For the reasons detailed below, we reverse the decision
of the trial court and remand this matter for further
2} Amperor is a Texas corporation, specializing in
the manufacture of electronic parts and equipment. Priconics
is an Ohio limited liability company that acts as a sales
representative by selling principal products. In February
2015, Amperor and Priconics entered into a sales
representative agreement ("Contract") where
Priconics agreed to act as a sales representative for Amperor
and its products in Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and West
3} The Contract provided that Priconics was to
receive its commission based upon its procurement of purchase
orders. A dispute arose between the parties as to whether
Priconics was entitled to commissions from one of
Amperor's pre-existing clients.
4} On February 14, 2017, Amperor filed a declaratory
judgment action in Harris County, Texas. In the Texas
litigation, Amperor sought a declaratory judgment that: (1)
Priconics was not entitled to commissions from purchase
orders received from pre-existing customers, and (2)
Priconics has been paid all commissions currently due and
owing under the terms of the contract.
5} On March 7, 2014, Priconics filed the instant
action against Amperor in Warren County, Ohio. The Ohio
litigation filed by Priconics alleged that Amperor violated
R.C. 1335.11 by failing to pay commissions owed to Priconics
and that Amperor had breached the terms of the Contract by
failing to pay all commissions.
6} On April 26, 2017, Amperor moved to dismiss the
Ohio litigation under Civ.R. 12(B)(1) for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction based on the jurisdictional-priority
rule. Amperor claims that the Texas litigation and the Ohio
litigation involve the same parties and seek to resolve the
same issues. Therefore, because the Texas action was filed
first, Amperor argues that jurisdiction is properly in Texas
and the lawsuit in Ohio should be dismissed. The trial court
agreed with Amperor and dismissed the Ohio litigation on the
basis of the jurisdiction-priority rule. Priconics now
appeals the decision of the trial court, raising a single
assignment of error for review:
7} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT
UNDER THE JURISDICTIONAL-PRIORITY RULE BASED ON THE
CONCLUSION THAT BOTH CASES INVOLVED THE SAME PARTIES BEFORE
IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE TEXAS COURT HAD PERSONAL
JURISDICTION OVER PRICONICS.
8} In its sole assignment of error, Priconics argues
that the trial court erred by dismissing its complaint based
on the jurisdictional-priority rule. We agree.
9} "The jurisdictional-priority rule provides
that as between state courts of concurrent jurisdiction, the
tribunal whose power is first invoked acquires exclusive
jurisdiction to adjudicate the whole issue and settle the
rights of the parties." Triton Servs., Inc. v.
Reed, 12th Dist. Warren Nos. CA2016-04-028 and
CA2016-08-068, 2016-Ohio-7838, ¶ 8. Generally, "it
is a condition of the jurisdictional-priority rule that the
claims and parties be the same in both cases, so '[i]f
the second case is not for the same cause of action, nor
between the same parties, the former suit will not prevent
the latter.'" State ex rel. Dunlap v.
Sarko, 135 Ohio St.3d 171, 2013-Ohio-67, ¶ 10.
However, the rule can apply even when the causes of action,
relief requested, and the parties are not exactly the same so
long as the actions are part of the same "whole
issue." Id. at ¶ 11.
10} The jurisdictional-priority rule, however, does
not apply to courts in other states. Mouded v.
Khoury, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 105656, 2018-Ohio-284,
¶ 10, citing Developers Diversified Realty v.
Coventry Real Estate Fund II, LLC, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga
No. 97231, 2012-Ohio-1056, ¶ 30. Long v. Grill,155 Ohio App.3d 135, 2003-Ohio-5665, ¶ 27 (10th Dist.)
("The 'rule of priority of jurisdiction' applies
to actions pending in different ...