Oh Deer...No TRO During Appeal

 In re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-24-00582-CV (May 23, 2024)
Justices Reichek, Carlyle, and Miskel (opinion available here)
Lesson learned: serving an out-of-state registered agent for the out-of-state defendant is not proper service under Texas law. 

The owners of a commercial deer-breeding facility brought suit to enjoin the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department from carrying out a “deer depopulation order” after the detection of Chronic Wasting Disease at the facility. The trial court denied the Department’s plea to the jurisdiction and entered a temporary injunction, and the Department filed an interlocutory appeal. The Dallas Court of Appeals entered a temporary order preventing the depopulation pending resolution of the appeal, but the Supreme Court stayed that Order. The trial court then entered a TRO regarding the manner of the depopulation. The Department sought mandamus to vacate that TRO.

The Court of Appeals conditionally granted the writ, holding that the TRO violated CPRC §51.014(b)’s automatic stay. Section 51.014(b) stays the commencement of trial pending most interlocutory appeals. But in the case of certain specified appeals, it goes further and “stays all other proceedings in the trial court pending resolution of [the] appeal,” as well. An appeal from the denial of a plea to the jurisdiction by a governmental unit—like that taken by the Department here—gives rise to that more extensive stay, which the appeals court held prohibits entry of a TRO. The trial court therefore abused its discretion in issuing a TRO in violation of the automatic stay.
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