After Awarding Dallas Realtor $3.12 Million in Land Deal Gone South For Mexican Consulate, Federal Judge Changes His Mind

Been a long while since we visited with Enrique Hubbard Urrea, the former consul general for the Mexican Consulate in Dallas who has since decamped for Culiacán, Sinaloa. But Courthouse News brings us news this afternoon involving Hubbard and the consulate and that multimillion-dollar court judgment the consulate lost late in '09 when a local real estate agent sued for breach of contract.

Long story short: Blake Box contended in court docs that he'd been hired by the Hubbard and Hugo Juarez-Carillo in 2006 to find the consulate a new home. Box said a lease deal turned into a purchase agreement, at which point, per court docs, "Ambassador Hubbard and Juarez agreed to enter a joint venture arrangement on behalf of the Consulate under which [Box] and his investors would buy the property, subdivide it, and sell back one of the buildings to the Consulate." Only, Box contended, the consulate went behind his back and bought the land on River Bend Drive without his assist, therefore cutting him out of the deal.

Box sued the consulate on June 16, 2008, and when it never responded, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor awarded Box $3.125 million in damages. The consulate claimed it didn't know it had been sued. Matter of fact, when The News interviewed Hubbard's replacement, Juan Carlos Cué Vega, in November 2009, he said "he didn't know of the judgment," which O'Connor handed down after insisting "the Mexican government wasn't protected by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act because of a commercial activity exemption."

Eventually, the consulate filed docs asking the court to set aside the default judgment for two reasons, according to O'Connor: "first, that this Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction when the judgment was entered and, second, that the Court lacked personal jurisdiction because of ineffective service of process." In short: The Consulate says Hubbard had no right to cut a deal, and insists the Dallas federal court has no jurisdiction over the claims. And, sure enough: Two days before Christmas, O'Connor disappeared Box's award and dismissed his suit, writing that "the Consulate is immune from suit under the FSIA and the commercial activity exception does not apply," after he'd said just the opposite more than a year ago. He also ruled that Box's "alternative request to conduct discovery to prove subject matter jurisdiction is DENIED."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky