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In re Texas Department of Transportation

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso

April 24, 2019

IN RE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, RELATOR

          AN ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN PROHIBITION AND INJUNCTION

          Before McClure, C.J., Rodriguez, and Palafox, JJ.

          OPINION

          YVONNE T. RODRIGUEZ, JUSTICE

         The Texas Department of Transportation has filed a petition for writ of prohibition against the Honorable Bonnie Rangel, Judge of the 171st District Court of El Paso County, Texas. TxDOT asks that we prohibit Respondent from exercising jurisdiction over cause number 2018DCV1823, styled Genaro Flores v. Texas Department of Transportation, because that proceeding is interfering with this Court's jurisdiction in a pending appeal. Additionally, TxDOT is requesting that the Court issue a writ of injunction against the Real Party in Interest, Genaro Flores. We conditionally grant the writ of prohibition against the trial court and the writ of injunction against Flores prohibiting the prosecution of Flores's suit in cause number 2018DCV1823.

         FACTUAL SUMMARY

         In 2014, Flores filed an age discrimination suit against TxDOT in cause number 2014DCV1263, styled Genaro Flores v. Texas Department of Transportation. A jury found in Flores's favor and the trial court signed a judgment on February 15, 2017 awarding Flores money damages and ordering TxDOT to reinstate him to his position as an assistant maintenance supervisor within 30 days.

         TxDOT timely filed its notice of appeal on February 27, 2017, and the appeal is currently pending in this Court in cause number 08-17-00047-CV, styled Texas Department of Transportation v. Genaro Flores.[1] The filing of the notice of appeal by TxDOT had the effect of suspending enforcement of the judgment, including the order to reinstate Flores to his former position. On May 23, 2017, Flores filed a charge of discrimination against TxDOT based on its failure to reinstate Flores. On May 15, 2018, Flores filed a new suit against TxDOT based on its failure to reinstate him as required by the judgment entered in cause number 2014DCV1263. That case is styled Genaro Flores v. Texas Department of Transportation (cause number 2018DCV1823) and is pending in the 171st District Court. Flores is proceeding with discovery in the new suit. TxDOT filed its petition seeking issuance of the writs of prohibition and injunction to prohibit the trial court and Flores from proceeding with cause number 2018DCV1823 during the pendency of the pending appeal (cause number 08-17-00047-CV).

         ENFORCEMENT OF THE SUPERSEDED JUDGMENT

         In two related issues, TxDOT challenges Flores' efforts to enforce the superseded judgment by filing a new suit. In Issue One, it argues that the continued prosecution of Flores's suit in cause number 2018DCV1823 is an impermissible attempt to enforce the superseded judgment that is the subject of its appeal in cause number 08-17-00047-CV and is interfering with the subject matter of the appeal and our jurisdiction. TxDOT asks the Court to conditionally issue the writ of prohibition and order the trial court to refrain from taking any action in cause number 2018DCV1823 during the pendency of the appeal. In Issue Two, TxDOT contends that the Court should issue a writ of injunction against Flores to prevent him from seeking enforcement of the superseded judgment or prosecuting his claims in cause number 2018DCV1823 until the appeal has been finally resolved.

         A court of appeals has the power to issue all writs necessary to enforce its jurisdiction. Tex.Gov't Code Ann. § 22.221(a). Its power to grant injunctive relief is limited, however, to protecting its jurisdiction over the subject matter of a pending appeal or preventing an unlawful interference with the enforcement of its judgments and decrees. Ott v. Bell, 606 S.W.2d 955, 957 (Tex.Civ.App.--Waco 1980, no writ).

         A writ of prohibition operates like an injunction issued by a superior court to control, limit, or prevent action in a court of inferior jurisdiction. Holloway v. Fifth Court of Appeals, 767 S.W.2d 680, 682 (Tex. 1989); In re Cap Rock Energy Corporation, 225 S.W.3d 160 (Tex.App.--El Paso 2005, orig. proceeding). The purpose of the writ is to enable a superior court to protect and enforce its jurisdiction and judgments. Holloway, 767 S.W.2d at 683; Cap Rock, 225 S.W.3d at 160. The writ of prohibition has three functions: (1) preventing interference with higher courts in deciding a pending appeal; (2) preventing an inferior court from entertaining suits which will relitigate controversies which have already been settled by issuing courts; and (3) prohibiting a trial court's action when it affirmatively appears that the court lacks jurisdiction. In re Johnson, 961 S.W.2d 478, 481 (Tex.App.--Corpus Christi-Edinburg 1997, orig. proceeding); Texas Capital Bank-Westwood v. Johnson, 864 S.W.2d 186, 187 (Tex.App.--Texarkana 1993, orig. proceeding); McClelland v. Partida, 818 S.W.2d 453, 456 (Tex.App.--Corpus Christi 1991, orig. proceeding). The writ is typically used to protect the subject matter of an appeal or to prohibit an unlawful interference with the enforcement of a superior court's orders and judgments. Holloway, 767 S.W.2d at 683. In this case, TxDOT is seeking to protect the subject matter of the pending appeal and its right to supersede the judgment.

         Protecting the Subject Matter of a Pending Appeal

         In its first issue, TxDOT argues that the continued prosecution of Flores's suit in cause number 2018DCV1823 is an impermissible effort to enforce the superseded judgment that is the subject of its appeal in cause number 08-17-00047-CV. TxDOT asks the Court to conditionally issue the writ of prohibition and order the trial court to refrain from taking any action in cause number 2018DCV1823 until the appeal is finally resolved.

         Rule 24.1 of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure addresses the methods for superseding a judgment, including the filing of a supersedeas bond. Tex.R.App.P. 24.1(a). Rule 24.2 establishes the procedures to be followed for determining the amount of bond, deposit, or security required when the judgment is for recovery of money, recovery of property, or for something other than money or an interest in property. See Tex.R.App.P. 24.2(a)(1)-(3). Enforcement of a judgment must be suspended if the judgment is superseded. Tex.R.App.P. 24.1(f)(addressing effect of ...


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