Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the 69th District Court Sherman County, Texas
Trial Court No. 5033; Honorable Ronald E. Enns, Presiding.
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
Patrick A. Pirtle, Justice
a land rights case wherein Appellants, Jody Stone and his
wife, Brenda Stone, were denied a permanent injunction
against Appellee, J.W. Resources, Inc., following a bench
trial. The Stones had sought to shut down a saltwater
disposal well located on their property based on the alleged
failure of J.W. Resources, Inc. to fulfill its obligations
under the rules and regulations of the United States
Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") to prepare
and implement a Spill Prevention and Control Plan. By a
single issue restated four different ways, the Stones contend
the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to issue
the permanent injunction requested. We affirm.
Stones are the owners of the surface estate of two tracts of
ranchland located in Sherman County, Texas, containing 431
acres, more or less. The Stones operate a cow-calf operation
on that land. The land itself contains part of the North Palo
Duro Creek, a part of the watershed of the Palo Duro dam and
reservoir located in Hansford County.
time the Stones acquired the property, it was subject to the
terms and provisions of a saltwater disposal lease,
well as an oil and gas lease. For several years, the disposal
well was a source of irritation to the Stones, with the main
complaint being the inadequacy of the dikes constructed
around saltwater retention facilities. The Stones maintain
the dikes were inadequately designed and maintained, thereby
allowing contaminants to pollute their property. As a result
of these problems, the Stones filed suit seeking monetary
damages and injunctive relief. They subsequently abandoned
all claims except their claim for injunctive relief. During
the course of discovery, the Stones requested production of
"[a]ll spill prevention control and counter measure plan
or plans as required by the Environmental Protection Agency .
. . . " During the deposition of J.W. Resources,
Inc.'s corporate representative, Joe W. Watkins,
testimony was given that an EPA compliant plan was in place.
Despite the representation of counsel that those plans would
subsequently be produced, no efforts were made to compel
their production and no plans were ever provided. At trial,
Watkins again testified that an EPA mandated Spill
Prevention and Control Plan for the disposal well was in
conclusion of the hearing, the trial court initially deferred
its ruling, but later issued a letter denying the requested
injunctive relief. In its Findings of Fact and
Conclusions of Law, the trial court found J.W.
Resources, Inc. to be in compliance with both EPA and Texas
Railroad Commission rules and regulations.
as four "points of error, " the Stones contend the
trial court erred when it denied injunctive relief because
the evidence was legally ("point of error one") and
factually ("point of error two") insufficient to
establish compliance with the applicable EPA regulations
mandating a Spill Prevention and Control Plan. The
Stones further contend the trial court abused its discretion
by denying injunctive relief ("point of error
three") and that the evidence was legally insufficient
to support the trial court's conclusions of law 8, 9, 11,
and 13 pertaining to the denial of their requested injunctive
relief ("point of error four"). We will address all
four points of error together under the general discussion of
whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying
injunction is an extraordinary remedy, the purpose of which
is to preserve the status quo so as to prevent future
damages. Walling v. Metcalfe, 863 S.W.2d 56, 57
(Tex. 1993). To be entitled to injunctive relief, the Stones
had the burden to plead and prove three specific elements:
(1) the existence of a wrongful act by the party to be
enjoined; (2) a probable right to the relief sought; and (3)
the likelihood of imminent and irreparable injury.
Butnaru v. Ford Motor Co., 84 S.W.3d 198, 204 (Tex.
2002). An injury is irreparable if the injured party cannot
be adequately compensated by the recovery of monetary damages
or if the damages cannot be measured by any certain pecuniary
decision to grant or deny an injunction rests within the
sound discretion of the trial court. Id. As such, we
review the denial of an application for a permanent
injunction under an abuse of discretion standard. See
Operation Rescue-Nat'l v. Planned Parenthood, 975
S.W.2d 546, 560 (Tex. 1998). Under an abuse of discretion
standard, legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence are
not independent grounds of error, but are instead relevant
factors for this court to assess in determining whether the
trial court abused its discretion. Henry v. Henry,
48 S.W.3d 468, 475 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2001, no
pet.). In that regard, a trial court abuses its discretion by
ruling without supporting evidence. Ford Motor Co. v.
Garcia, 363 S.W.3d 573, 578 (Tex. 2012). The test for
abuse of discretion is whether the trial court acted without
reference to any guiding ...