Texas Employment Com'n v. Norris

Citation636 S.W.2d 248
Decision Date28 June 1982
Docket NumberNo. 09-82-056,09-82-056
PartiesThe TEXAS EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION, et al., Appellants, v. Leonce J. NORRIS, Appellee. CV.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas

KEITH, Justice.

Defendants below appeal from an order granting a temporary injunction. Plaintiff, a claimant of unemployment benefits, invoked the jurisdiction of the trial court as an appeal from a decision by the Commission denying to him benefits under the Unemployment Compensation Act, Tex.Rev.Civ.Stat.Ann. art. 5221b-1 et seq. (1971), hereinafter "Act". The suit was filed timely under Sec. 4(i), and Texaco, Inc., and the Commission were named parties defendant.

Simultaneously with the filing of his original petition, plaintiff secured the issuance of an ex parte temporary restraining order requiring the Commission and Texaco to pay him the benefits he sought at the conclusion of his suit. 1

The Commission and Texaco appeared at the hearing on the application for a temporary injunction. The Commission filed its plea to the jurisdiction of the Court to grant injunctive relief; Texaco filed its motion to vacate the temporary restraining order and set out many alleged defenses to the preliminary relief sought by plaintiff. After a lengthy hearing, the trial court granted a temporary injunction wherein the defendants were commanded forthwith :

1. "to pay (plaintiff) unemployment compensation benefits for the full duration of time and in the full amount to which he is entitled under the other terms and sections of the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act."

2. "to cease and desist from continuing to apply the 5d (sic) disqualification in favor of Texaco, Inc., and against the payment of unemployment compensation claims brought pursuant to the stoppage of work at the Texaco Main Plant, Port Arthur, Texas." 2

3. "to cease and desist and are hereby restrained from taking any action or making any effort to enforce the provisions of 6b (sic) regarding the repayment of unemployment compensation benefits until such time as this temporary injunction shall be dissolved in whole or in part." 3

The defendants perfected their separate appeals immediately, with Texaco filing a motion to stay the temporary injunction order pending the determination of its validity; the Commission moved to advance the submission of the cause. We granted both motions in an order which stayed the injunction in order to protect our jurisdiction, shortened the time for completion of the record and the filing of briefs, and heard the appeal on a full record. Tex.R.Civ.P. 385(f).


All parties concede, and we agree, that the trial court had jurisdiction of plaintiff's appeal from the order of the Commission denying benefits. He duly and timely perfected his appeal under the provisions of Sec. 4(i) of the Act, but the very statute which acted as his key to the courthouse door in his suit against the State provided: "A petition for judicial review shall not act as a supersedeas."

In this Part I we consider only the contentions of the defendants that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to grant the injunctive relief as brought forward by the defendants below.

It is argued that the injunction issued, requiring the disbursement of public trust funds by state officials to the plaintiff, is in effect a suit against the State and plaintiff has not alleged consent of the State to be sued. The Attorney General cites State v. Isbell, 127 Tex. 399, 94 S.W.2d 423, 424 (1936), where the Court wrote:

"It is a rule of universal recognition that a state cannot be sued without its consent, and then only in the manner, place, and court or courts designated."

Isbell was followed in Olson v. Texas Employment Commission, 593 S.W.2d 866, 867 (Tex.Civ.App.-Corpus Christi 1980, writ ref'd n. r. e.), where the trial court's jurisdiction was founded solely upon Sec. 4(i) of the Act following a denial of his claim for benefits. Olson "also sought actual and punitive damages from the commission for himself and others," but asserted no other base for his suit and did not allege permission to sue. The trial court's dismissal of Olson's suit for lack of jurisdiction was affirmed.

The result reached in Olson, supra, was required by application of the well established rule that actions created by the Legislature are governed strictly by the statute of their creation. Texas Emp. Comm'n v. International U. of E., R. & M. Wkrs., 163 Tex. 135, 352 S.W.2d 252, 254 (1961). Accord: Williams v. Back, 624 S.W.2d 272, 276 (Tex.App.-Austin 1981, no writ); Texas Employment Commission v. Ortiz, 574 S.W.2d 213, 214 (Tex.Civ.App.-Corpus Christi 1978, no writ).

Plaintiff places primary reliance upon Texas Unemployment Compensation Comm'n v. Metropolitan Bldg. & Loan Ass'n, 139 S.W.2d 309 (Tex.Civ.App.-Austin 1940, writ ref'd), 4 for his contention that the trial court had jurisdiction to grant an injunction against the Commission. The Court in Metropolitan Bldg. & Loan, upheld the jurisdiction of a trial court to grant injunctive relief to prevent a multiplicity of suits because

"(T)he failure to pay the contributions or taxes, and to comply with other regulatory requirements of the Commission, would subject each of the appellees (who numbered ten) to a multiplicity of suits and to the payment of accumulated penalties in the sum of thousands of dollars and years of imprisonment." (139 S.W.2d at 311)

We turn to another rule applicable to this cause. It has long been well established that legislative grants of property, rights, or privileges are to be construed strictly in favor of the state and " 'whatever is not unequivocally granted in clear and explicit terms is withheld.' " State v. Standard, 414 S.W.2d 148, 153 (Tex.1967). See also, Rose v. Governor, 24 Tex. 496, 504 (1859); Empire Gas & Fuel Co. v. State, 121 Tex. 138, 47 S.W.2d 265, 272 (1932). See also, Gilbert v. State, 437 S.W.2d 444, 446 (Tex.Civ.App.-Houston (14th Dist.) 1969, writ ref'd n. r. e.).

There is no presumption of jurisdiction even though the suit was filed in the district court, a court of record of general jurisdiction. The court could only exercise "special statutory powers in a special statutory manner." Mingus v. Wadley, 115 Tex. 551, 285 S.W. 1084, 1089 (1926). As applied to the facts of this case, the Court-after a trial on the merits-could order only payment or denial of benefits to plaintiff in the "special statutory manner" provided in the Act.

The Commission also relies upon language found in Campbell v. Texas Employment Commission, 598 S.W.2d 40, 41 (Tex.Civ.App.-Austin 1980, no writ), where the Court observed: "The only section that would have authorized appellant to sue the State under the facts of this case is Article 5221b-4(i)", followed by this final determination:

"We therefore hold that the statutory provisions of Article 5221b, et seq. (Supp.1980), afford the exclusive remedies available to the appellant in this case. Since appellant has not brought himself within these statutory provisions, the trial court was without jurisdiction to render a declaratory judgment as to appellant's liability under the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act. (598 S.W.2d at 42) 5

We have found nothing in the statute to indicate that the Legislature intended to authorize any injunctive relief to a claimant denied benefits by the Commission, much less the attempted wholesale expansion of what amounts to class action litigation in a hearing on an application for a temporary injunction as was done in this case.

The dominant purpose of plaintiff's suit was to secure an adjudication that he was entitled to benefits under the Act, a right granted to him by the statute itself. The temporary injunction was, consequently, an ancillary injunction. Houston Oil Co. of Texas v. Village Mills Co., 109 Tex. 169, 202 S.W. 725, 226 S.W. 1075 (1918); City of Dallas v. Wright, 120 Tex. 190, 36 S.W.2d 973 (1931); Winslow v. Duval County Ranch Co., 519 S.W.2d 217, 220 (Tex.Civ.App.-Beaumont 1975, writ ref'd n. r. e.).

Finally, there is the holding of the Supreme Court in Texas Liquor Control Board v. Canyon Creek Land Corp., 456 S.W.2d 891, 895 (Tex.1970), where the Court considered a similar contention. The Court wrote:

"The full right of appeal has been granted here but with the proviso that the decision of the district court shall not be suspended pending review by the appellate courts. This is a matter for determination by the Legislature, and a court of equity is not authorized to intervene simply because it concludes that enjoyment of the privilege should be protected during an appeal from the decision of the district court." (emphasis supplied)

We have not been directed to nor has our research disclosed any grant of jurisdiction to the trial court to order injunctive relief against the Commission at the instance of a dissatisfied claimant of benefits. Therefore, such jurisdiction has, under the authorities, been withheld by the Legislature. Empire Gas & Fuel Co. v. State, supra (47 S.W.2d at 272). The trial court was not "authorized to intervene" as a court of equity. Canyon Creek Land Corp. Case, supra.

We sustain the first points of the Commission and Texaco asserting, in substance, that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to grant the temporary injunction now before us on this appeal. 6 We now hold that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction as well as jurisdiction over the parties only in the appeal from the order of the Commission which was vested under the provisions of Sec. 4(i) of the Act. It did not have jurisdiction to enter the order granting the temporary injunction.

For the reasons and under the authorities herein cited, we take the following action:

1. The judgment granting the temporary injunction is...

To continue reading

Request your trial
4 cases
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • 8 February 2000
    ...injury."); Tom James Co. v. Mendrop, 819 S.W.2d 251, 253 (Tex.App.1991); Williams, 704 S.W.2d at 472; Texas Employment Comm'n v. Norris, 636 S.W.2d 248, 253 (Tex.App.1982) (holding in part that the "trial court abused its discretion in granting a temporary injunction in the absence of a sho......
  • Norris v. Texas Employment Com'n, B14-84-487-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 10 January 1985
    ...and ordered the TEC to pay benefits. Both the TEC and Texaco appealed. The Beaumont Court of Appeals vacated the temporary injunction, 636 S.W.2d 248, and appellant proceeded to trial on the merits in district court. At the trial, the court held that there was substantial evidence to suppor......
  • Portland Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Bernstein, 13-83-511-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 21 February 1985
    ...rights and privileges are to be strictly construed. State v. Standard, 414 S.W.2d 148 (Tex.1967); Texas Employment Commission v. Norris, 636 S.W.2d 248 (Tex.Civ.App.--Beaumont 1982, writ dism'd); Gilbert v. State, 437 S.W.2d 444 (Tex.Civ.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1969, writ ref'd n.r.e.). ......
  • Hi-Line Elec. Co., Inc. v. Cryer, HI-LINE
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 25 August 1983
    ...its order are not supported by some evidence of a substantial and probative character. Texas Employment Commission, et al v. Norris, 636 S.W.2d 248, 252 (Tex.App.--Beaumont 1982, no writ); City of Houston, et al v. Southwestern Bell Tel. Co., 263 S.W.2d 169, 171 (Tex.Civ.App.--Galveston 195......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT