Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
IN RE: CASTLE TEXAS PRODUCTION LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, RELATOR
consisted of Worthen, C.J. and Neeley, J.
Texas Production Limited Partnership seeks mandamus relief
from the trial court's decision to reopen the record to
determine postjudgment interest. In a single issue, Castle
contends that, by reopening the record, the trial court
exceeded the bounds of the Texas Supreme Court's mandate
in Long v. Castle Tex. Prod. Ltd. P'ship, 426
S.W.3d 73 (Tex. 2014). We deny the petition.
operates gas wells in which the Long Trusts have an interest.
In 1996, the Long Trusts sued Castle for breach of a joint
operating agreement and conversion. Castle counterclaimed for
amounts owed on joint interest billings. Following a trial,
Castle prevailed on its counterclaim. In its first judgment,
entered in 2001, the trial court awarded Castle prejudgment
interest without specifying its calculation. On appeal, this
court remanded the case to the trial court to recalculate
prejudgment interest because it appeared to have been
remand, the trial court ordered the record be reopened. The
trial court reasoned that there was insufficient evidence in
the existing record to determine when the Long Trusts
received the joint interest billings to adjudicate
prejudgment interest under the joint operating agreement. In
response to the trial court's decision, Castle waived its
prejudgment interest claim in open court and the trial court
entered a new judgment in 2009, which awarded Castle
postjudgment interest from the original 2001 judgment. This
Court affirmed that judgment.The Long Trusts appealed to the
Texas Supreme Court on the sole ground that accrual of
postjudgment interest as of the date of the original judgment
Texas Supreme Court agreed with the Long Trusts, reversed
this court's judgment, and remanded the case to the trial
court to render judgment for Castle, with postjudgment
interest to accrue "in accordance with this
opinion." On remand, the trial court issued a letter
ruling that the record be reopened again for the court to
"determine postjudgment interest including the accrual
period." This original proceeding followed.
is an extraordinary remedy that is only available when the
trial court has clearly abused its discretion and there is no
adequate remedy by appeal. In re Prudential Ins. Co. of
Am., 148 S.W.3d 124, 135-36 (Tex. 2004). A clear abuse
of discretion occurs when a trial court "reaches a
decision so arbitrary and unreasonable as to amount to a
clear and prejudicial error of law." Walker v.
Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839 (Tex. 1992) (orig.
proceeding). When a trial court fails to issue a judgment in
accordance with the supreme court's mandate, an aggrieved
party may seek a writ of mandamus. Lee v. Downey,
842 S.W.2d 646, 648 (Tex. 1992).
with Supreme Court Mandate
contends the trial court exceeded the scope of the supreme
court's mandate by directing the record be reopened to
determine postjudgment interest, including the accrual
period. It argues the supreme court's directive that the
trial court "render judgment for Castle, with
postjudgment interest to accrue in accordance with this
opinion, " means that the trial court was to do nothing
more than revise its judgment to award postjudgment interest
starting on the date the new judgment was entered on March
25, 2009, rather than from the date of the original 2001
judgment. In short, Castle argues that the trial court was
merely to perform the ministerial act of changing only the
commencement date for accrual of postjudgment interest.
Long Trusts, however, argue that the supreme court's
reversal of this court's opinion nullified the 2009
judgment and, consequently, it is within the trial
court's discretion to reexamine all aspects of the
postjudgment interest award. It argues that if the supreme
court had only intended the trial court perform the
ministerial act propounded by Castle, it could have done so
itself or directed it be done by the appellate or trial
court. Because the supreme court did not do so, the Long
Trusts argue that the supreme court's opinion merely
defines the methodology to determine the date in which
postjudgment interest begins to accrue and directs the trial
court, by remand, to determine if sufficient evidence in the
record exists to correctly enter an award as to postjudgment
interest. If the record is insufficient, the Long Trusts
argue the trial court must reopen the record to admit the
necessary evidence to enter a new correct final judgment.
Both parties recognize that the crux of the dispute is an
interpretation of the phrase "to render judgment for
Castle, with postjudgment interest to accrue in accordance
with this opinion."
appellate court affirms a trial court's judgment or
renders the judgment the trial court should have rendered,
that judgment becomes the judgment of both courts. Cessna
Aircraft Co. v. Aircraft Network, LLC, 345 S.W.3d 139,
144 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2011, no pet.). Once the opinion and
judgment of the appellate court have issued, the trial court
loses the power to review, interpret, or enforce its prior
judgment. Id. The trial court has no option but to
observe and carry out the appellate court's mandate.
judgment is reversed and the case is remanded to the trial
court to render a certain judgment, the appellate court
retains jurisdiction until that particular judgment is
entered and the mandate is obeyed. Id.; see also
Bramlett v. Phillips, 322 S.W.3d 443, 445-46 (Tex. App.-
Amarillo 2010, no pet.). On remand, the filing of the mandate
with the trial court vests the trial court with limited
jurisdiction, as defined by the parameters of the mandate, to
decide those issues specified in the mandate.
Cessna, 345 S.W.3d at 144. When an appellate court
remands a case with specific instructions, the trial court is
limited to complying with the instructions and cannot
re-litigate issues controverted at the former trial.
Id. The trial court's order carrying out the
mandate is ministerial. Id. The scope of the mandate
is determined with reference to both the appellate
court's opinion and the mandate itself. Id.
regard to issues on which an appellate court reverses a trial
court's judgment, the trial court's judgment is
nullified, leaving the judgment as to those issues as if it
had never been rendered. Id. at 145. When a case is
remanded, the trial court must determine whether it must
reopen the record. Long, 426 S.W.3d at 81. If a
trial court determines that it must reopen the record on
remand to comply with an appellate court's decision, it
should make that determination based upon the claims and
record as of the time of the remand. Id. at 82. If a
party believes the trial court erred ...