Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the 100th District Court Carson County, Texas
Trial Court No. 11430, Honorable Stuart Messer, Presiding
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
Quinn Chief Justice
Bright Land & Cattle, LLC, (Bright) appeals from a
temporary injunction granted in favor of appellees, PG-M
International, LLC (a/k/a Matra Petroleum Oil & Gas,
LLC), PG-M International Operating, LLC (a/k/a Matra
Petroleum Operating, LLC), and Matra Petroleum U.S.A., Inc.,
collectively "Matra." The trial court's
temporary injunction declared a 100′ wide power line
easement across certain sections of Bright's ranch,
described the easement by metes and bounds, and ordered that
Bright refrain from interfering with or disconnecting the
power lines running along the easement. On appeal from that
order, Bright contends that the trial court abused its
discretion by granting injunctive relief for a number of
reasons. We reverse.
evidence takes us back to 2007 when Lera, LLC (a company
owned by Randy Dixon) and SNW JB Properties (a company owned
by Jerry Nolen) proposed to drill an oil and gas well on a
ranch. Though the ranch contained electrical poles and lines,
the site at which the well was to be drilled lacked access to
them. To address the situation, Nolen approached the ranch
owner, Montford Johnson.
and Nolen discussed the matter and the two men came to an
oral agreement, consent to which was represented by a
handshake. Per the agreement, Nolen would connect to the
ranch's existing electrical line located on Section 12
for purposes of powering the mineral well. To do that though,
the line would have to cross over other sections of the
ranch, which sections were also owned by Johnson. As part of
the arrangement, Nolen also agreed to provide electricity to
a nearby water well of Johnson (without cost to Johnson) once
the line to the mineral well was completed.
mineral well was drilled and electrical lines were built. The
situation remained so until the entity who bought
Johnson's interest in the ranch (i.e., Bright)
discovered that the water well had no electricity. This
occurred in November of 2015, and Bright concluded that
Matra, Nolen and Dixon's purported successor, had
disconnected or severed the electrical wire to the water
well. Prior thereto, Bright had received a communication from
Matra regarding use of the electricity at the mineral well
site. Matra apparently believed that Bright impermissibly
tapped into the line. Therefore, it demanded that Bright stop
using the power for free. So, when Bright discovered that the
water well was not getting electricity, it deduced, correctly
or not, that Matra caused the circumstance and decided to
respond by disconnecting the electrical lines from Section 12
to the mineral well.
circumstances resulted in Bright suing Matra and Matra
counterclaiming against Bright. Needless to say, their
respective pleadings allege numerous causes of action, but
the one of import here is the declaratory relief sought by
Matra. Among other things, it requested the trial court to
declare that it "as well as any and all successors in
interest, have an easement to run power across the Ranch to
service the oil and gas leases at issue." Matra also
sought the following relief:
Matra requests that the Court issue a temporary restraining
order and set the request for an injunction for hearing and,
after hearing, enter a temporary injunction and, after trial,
a permanent injunction declaring that the claimed easement is
valid and inures to Matra, as well as its successors in
trial court convened a hearing on the request for temporary
injunctive relief and granted same. In doing so, it found a
probable right of recovery, but then it "ORDERED and
DECLARED that a One Hundred Foot (100') power line
easement exists in favor of Matra and its successors over
land belonging to Bright Land & Cattle, LLC, specifically
lying in Sections 10, 11, and 12." In addition to being
100' wide, the easement exceeded two miles in length.
appealed. It asserted various grounds purporting to
illustrate that the trial court abused its discretion in
granting the "temporary" relief.
purpose of a temporary injunction is to preserve the status
quo pending a final hearing on the merits. Clint Indep.
Sch. Dist v. Marquez,487 S.W.3d 538, 555 (Tex. 2016);
SHA, LLC v. NW. Tex. Healthcare Sys., Inc., No.
07-13-00320-CV, 2014 Tex.App. LEXIS 38, at *2 (Tex.
App.-Amarillo Jan. 3, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op.). Indeed, the
only question to be decided by the trial court is whether the
status quo should be preserved. Transp. Co. v. Robertson
Transps., Inc.,152 Tex. 551, 261 S.W.2d 549, 552
(1953). Consequently, the temporary relief awarded cannot
accomplish the object of the suit. See Tex. Foundries,
Inc. v. Int'l Moulders & Foundry Workers Union,248 S.W.2d 460, 464 (1952); Friona Indep. Sch. Dist. v.
King,15 S.W.3d 653, 657 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2000, no
pet.). As we said in Friona I.S.D., "[t]o do so
is tantamount to adjudicating the litigants' respective
rights without the benefit of a trial and, therefore, is
error." Id. More importantly, when
accomplishing that object divests a party of a property right
without a trial, the order is void. See James v. E.
Weinstein & Sons,12 S.W.2d 959, 961 (Tex.
Comm'n App. 1952, holding approved); Hidden Valley
Civic Club v. Brown,702 S.W.2d 665, 667 (Tex. App.
Houston-[14th Dist.] 1985, no writ) (involving a temporary
injunction and stating that "[t]he court is without
authority to divest a party of property rights without a
trial and any attempt to do so is void"); Williamson
v. Cty. of Dallas,519 S.W.2d 495, 498 (Tex. Civ.
App.-Waco 1975, writ ref'd n.r.e.) (involving a temporary
injunction and stating that "[t]he ...