Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
FROM THE 369TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT ANDERSON COUNTY, TEXAS
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
Redwine appeals the trial court's judgment and award of
damages rendered against her for defamation of Appellee Brian
Peckinpaugh d/b/a Monster Malaks (collectively Peckinpaugh).
Redwine raises five issues on appeal. We reverse and render
in part, modify in part, and affirm as modified.
has been a breeder of livestock guardian dogs in Corsicana,
Texas, for twenty years. She operates a website called
WorkingDogs.com. In 2010, Peckinpaugh, who owned a business
that bred Kangal guardian dogs, contacted Redwine to ask if
she would assist him with his website. Redwine agreed, and
the two became friends.
2011, Peckinpaugh told Redwine that he was importing a new
dog breed from Turkey called "Turkish Boz." Redwine
later researched that breed online and found pictures of its
being used as a fighting dog in Turkey. Redwine found dog
fighting to be extremely objectionable. As a result, she
informed Peckinpaugh that she no longer desired to associate
with him because she feared their continued association would
ruin her reputation in the livestock guardian dog community.
Redwine posted statements on her website in an attempt to
distance herself from Peckinpaugh. Specifically, she posted
that she had helped Peckinpaugh make his website before she
realized he was a "dog fighter." She further wrote
that the Turkish Boz dogs that Peckinpaugh imported suffered
from elbow dysplasia, were not vaccinated, and several died
from parvo or distemper. Finally, she posted that the dogs
were being shipped into this country by the Taliban and
Peckinpaugh sent money from his sales of the dogs to a known
hater of Americans.
November 2012, Peckinpaugh sued Redwine for defamation and
sought to recover actual and exemplary damages. The matter
proceeded to a jury trial on September 21, 2015. At trial,
the court's charge asked the jury about seven statements
Peckinpaugh alleged Redwine had made about him. The jury
answered in the affirmative that (1) Redwine had made each of
the seven statements, (2) each of the statements was false,
and (3) Redwine knew or should have known, in the exercise of
ordinary care, that the statements were false and had the
potential to be defamatory. As a result, the jury awarded
$200, 000.00 for past injury to reputation, $50, 000.00 for
future injury to reputation, $5, 000.00 for mental anguish in
the past, and $1.00 for mental anguish in the future. The
jury further awarded $40, 000.00 for lost income in the past
and $1.00 for lost income in the future. Finally, the jury
awarded $250, 000.00 in exemplary damages. Judgment was
entered on April, 21, 2016, and this appeal followed.
Language in the Judgment
first issue, Redwine argues that the judgment is voidable
because it lacks the necessary decretal language.
order that fails to include any decretal language will not
result in a final judgment since it adjudicates nothing.
See In re Wilmington Tr., Nat'l Ass'n, No.
14-17-00074-CV, 2017 WL 946759, at *2 (Tex. App.-Houston
[14th Dist.] Mar. 9, 2017, no pet.). Because the finality of
a judgment raises the issue of jurisdiction, it is a legal
question we review de novo. See In re Guardianship of
Miller, 299 S.W.3d 179, 184 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, no
like other written instruments, are to be construed as a
whole toward the end of harmonizing and giving effect to all
the court has written. Constance v. Constance, 544
S.W.2d 659, 660 (Tex. 1976). Conclusive effect is not to be
given to the commonly employed decretal words. See
id. The determination of what the trial court
adjudicates in its judgment is to be determined from a fair
reading of all the provisions of the judgment. See
id. In other words, a judgment is tested by its
substance rather than by its form, and no particular
phraseology is required to make a judgment valid. See
Tourtelot v. Booker, 160 S.W. 293, 296 (Tex. Civ.
App.-El Paso 1913, writ ref'd). However, the language
employed should indicate clearly action of a judicial
character. See id. Thus, a judgment must show
intrinsically and distinctly, rather than inferentially, that
the matters in the record have been determined in favor of
one of the litigants or that the rights of the parties in
litigation have been adjudicated. See id.
judgment is the consideration and determination of a court of
competent jurisdiction on the matters submitted to it in an
action or proceeding. See Sw. Bell Tel. Co. v.
Griffith, 575 S.W.2d 92, 96 (Tex. Civ. App.-Corpus
Christi 1978, writ ref'd n.r.e.); see also Tex.
R. Civ. P. 301. The primary objective in rendering judgment
is concluding a controversy with as high of a degree of exact
justice as possible. See In re Marriage of
Grossnickle, 115 S.W.3d 238, 248 (Tex. App.-Texarkana
2003, no pet.). As a result, the judgment's language must
be certain and definite. See id. The essence of a
judgment consists of either an award or a denial of the
remedy sought. See State v. Reagan Cty. Purchasing
Co., 186 S.W.2d 128, 136 (Tex. Civ. App.-El Paso 1944,
writ refused w.o.m.).
judgment is more than mere findings of fact in the
controversy or even a recommendation as to the litigants'
future course. See In re Thompson, 991 S.W.2d 527,
532 (Tex. App.-Beaumont 1999, no pet.); see, e.g.,
Davis v. Hemphill, 243 S.W. 691, 693 (Tex. Civ.
App.-Fort Worth 1922, no writ). Rather, it is the solemn
sentence of law pronounced by the court on the facts found.
See Davis, 243 S.W. at 693. The judgment is to be
distinguished from a judge's mere expressions of opinion
where there is no intention that the expressions are to be
accepted as the judgment of the court. See Chandler v.
Reder, 635 S.W.2d 895, 897 (Tex. App.- Amarillo 1982, no
means the granting or denying of the remedy sought.
Envtl. Procedures, Inc. v. Guidry, 282 S.W.3d 602,
620 n.21 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2009, pet. denied).
The factual recitations or reasons preceding the decretal
portion of a judgment form no part of the judgment itself.
Alcantar v. Oklahoma Nat'l Bank, 47 S.W.3d 817,
823 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth, 2001, no pet.); see also Hines
v. Villalba, 231 S.W.3d 550, 553 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2007,
no pet.) (where judgment recited amount of appellate
attorney's fees, but lacked decretal language ordering
defendants to pay those fees, judgment could not be used to
enforce payment of those fees); Crider v. Cox, 960
S.W.2d 703, 705 (Tex. App.-Tyler 1997, writ denied).
case at hand, the trial court's judgment stated, in