Texas Quarter Horse Ass'n v. Am. Legion Dep't of Tex., NO. 03–15–00118–CV

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Writing for the CourtBob Pemberton, Justice
Citation496 S.W.3d 175
Docket NumberNO. 03–15–00118–CV
Decision Date08 June 2016
Parties Appellants, Texas Quarter Horse Association; Texas Thoroughbred Association ; Texas Horsemen's Partnership; Gillespie County Fair and Festivals Association, Inc.; Global Gaming LSP, LLC d/b/a Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie; and Sam Houston Race Park, LLC Cross-Appellants, American Legion Department of Texas, Temple Post 133; Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas; Thompson Allstate Bingo Supply, Inc.; and Moore Supplies, Inc. v. Appellees, American Legion Department of Texas, Temple Post 133; Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas; Thompson Allstate Bingo Supply, Inc.; and Moore Supplies, Inc. Cross-Appellees, Texas Quarter Horse Association; Texas Thoroughbred Association ; Texas Horsemen's Partnership; Gillespie County Fair and Festivals Association, Inc.; Global Gaming LSP, LLC d/b/a Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie; and Sam Houston Race Park, LLC

496 S.W.3d 175

Appellants, Texas Quarter Horse Association; Texas Thoroughbred Association ; Texas Horsemen's Partnership; Gillespie County Fair and Festivals Association, Inc.; Global Gaming LSP, LLC d/b/a Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie; and Sam Houston Race Park, LLC

Cross-Appellants, American Legion Department of Texas, Temple Post 133; Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas; Thompson Allstate Bingo Supply, Inc.; and Moore Supplies, Inc.
v.
Appellees, American Legion Department of Texas, Temple Post 133; Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas; Thompson Allstate Bingo Supply, Inc.; and Moore Supplies, Inc.

Cross-Appellees, Texas Quarter Horse Association; Texas Thoroughbred Association ; Texas Horsemen's Partnership; Gillespie County Fair and Festivals Association, Inc.; Global Gaming LSP, LLC d/b/a Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie; and Sam Houston Race Park, LLC

NO. 03–15–00118–CV

Court of Appeals of Texas, Austin.

Filed: June 8, 2016


Robert G. Hargrove, Osborn, Griffith & Hargrove, Martha S. Dickie, Almanza, Blackburn & Dickie, L.L.P., J. Bruce Bennett, John A. Cardwell, Cardwell, Hart & Bennett, L.L.P., Austin, TX, James C. Ho, Bradley Hubbard, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, L.L.P., David G. Cabrales, Lucas Wohlford, Calli Turner, Gardere Wynne Sewell, L.L.P., Dallas, TX, for Appellants.

Anatole R. Barnstone, The Law Office of Anatole Barnstone, Raymond E. White, McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore, L.L.P., Terry L. Scarborough, V. Blayre Pena, Hance Scarborough, L.L.P., Stephen Fenoglio, Austin, TX, for Appellee.

Before Chief Justice Rose, Justices Pemberton and Field

OPINION

Bob Pemberton, Justice

This proceeding presents two issues of potential significance to appellate and administrative-law practitioners. The first is whether third parties have standing to appeal from a trial-court judgment invalidating an agency rule when the affected agency has not perfected its own appeal. At least under the circumstances here, we conclude that the third parties lack standing to appeal. The second issue is whether an attempted appeal by such third parties, and no other parties, is subject to the rule requiring appellate courts to vacate lower-court judgments and dismiss the cause, not merely the appeal, when a case becomes moot on appeal.1 We conclude it is not. Instead, the proper remedy is to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction and leave the trial court's judgment undisturbed.

BACKGROUND

This proceeding arose from the controversy concerning the “historical racing” rules that had been adopted by the Texas Racing Commission in 2014.2 Alleging justiciable interests deriving from perceived detrimental impact of the rules upon them, several original and intervening plaintiffs—appellees here—sued the Commission and various official-capacity

496 S.W.3d 178

defendants (collectively, the Commission Defendants) in district court to challenge the rules' legality. Among other claims and theories, appellees sought declarations under either or both section 2001.038 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)3 and the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act (UDJA)4 that the rules exceeded the Commission's delegated authority under its organic statute, the Texas Racing Act.5 The Commission Defendants answered, and several entities that alleged justiciable interests deriving from the rules' perceived benefits for them—the appellants here—intervened as additional defendants. None of the appellants asserted a claim for affirmative relief, but instead acted solely to defend the rules' legality alongside the Commission Defendants.

The two sides subsequently filed competing motions for summary judgment on appellees' declaratory claims challenging the rules as beyond the Commission's authority under the Texas Racing Act. The district court, in relevant part: (1) sustained objections made by appellants to some of appellees' summary-judgment evidence; (2) granted appellees' summary-judgment motion; and (3) denied competing motions filed by the Commission Defendants and appellants. Appellees thereafter nonsuited all of their other pending claims so as to make the summary-judgment rulings final.6 The trial-level litigation was concluded with a December 2014 final judgment that incorporated the aforementioned rulings and nonsuit and declared that the rules “exceed the Texas Racing Commission's authority under the Texas Racing Act ... and are invalid.”

The Commission Defendants chose not to perfect an appeal from the district court's judgment. Subsequently, consistent with an agency's statutory obligations when a rule has been declared invalid by a “final court judgment,”7 the Commission would repeal the “historical racing” rules in March 2016.8 But appellants (the third parties who had intervened below as defendants in support of the rules) did timely file a notice of appeal from the district court's judgment. We docketed that appeal as the above-captioned cause.

After appellants filed their notice of appeal, appellees filed a timely notice of cross-appeal from the district court's judgment, thereby preserving their right to challenge, if need be, the portion of the district court's judgment incorporating its adverse ruling on appellees' summary-

496 S.W.3d 179

judgment evidence.9 But appellees' primary response was to move to dismiss appellants' appeal (and, conditioned on that relief, appellees' own cross-appeal) for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. Appellees urged that appellants' appeal was “moot” in the absence of any appeal by the Commission Defendants. Because the agency that had promulgated the rules was no longer attempting to defend their legality but had instead acceded to being bound by the district court's judgment, appellees reasoned, any justiciable controversy regarding the rules' validity had been concluded and appellants' appeal could have no effect on any party's rights or interests.10

Appellees' motion to dismiss remained pending for several months while appellants, without opposition from appellees, obtained a succession of abatements and postponements of appellate proceedings while awaiting the outcome of further Commission action.11 After the Commission's recent repeal of the historical-racing rules, appellees supplemented their dismissal motion to raise that action as an additional ground for concluding that no justiciable controversy existed on appeal.

Appellants then filed a response in which they conceded that no justiciable controversy regarding the rules' validity could have survived the repeal. But appellants attacked appellees' premise that this Court had lacked jurisdiction from the appeal's inception in the absence of any appeal by the Commission Defendants. Appellants reasoned that they had standing to appeal the judgment even in the absence of the Commission Defendants' participation, that appellants had thereby invoked this Court's jurisdiction, and that we had possessed such jurisdiction until the controversy was finally rendered moot by the rules' repeal. And based on that argument, appellants asserted a request for relief from the district court's judgment and its preclusive effects—they urged that this Court must vacate the district court's judgment and dismiss the cause, not merely dismiss the appeal as appellees had requested. In support, appellants invoked the rule, noted at the outset, that appellate courts are required to vacate lower-court judgments and dismiss the cause, not merely the appeal, when a case becomes moot on appeal. Appellees have filed a reply in which they join issue with both of appellants' contentions.

ANALYSIS

The parties' arguments implicate the justiciability doctrines that the Texas Supreme Court has held to derive from the Texas Constitution's open-courts and separation-of-powers provisions.12 It is therefore

496 S.W.3d 180

helpful to begin with a brief overview of these doctrines.13 In general, the justiciability doctrines serve to bar Texas courts jurisdictionally from issuing advisory opinions—those that “decide[ ] an abstract question of law without binding the parties,” considered to be a proper function of the Executive rather than Judicial Branch14 —or from granting court access to persons lacking any actual, concrete injury.15 Under the ripeness doctrine, courts must “consider whether, at the time a lawsuit is filed, the facts are sufficiently developed ‘so that an injury has occurred or is likely to occur, rather than being contingent or remote.’ ”16 Conversely, “[t]he mootness doctrine applies to cases in which a justiciable controversy exists between the parties at the time the case arose, but the live controversy ceases because of subsequent events.”17 A justiciable controversy ceases and the case becomes moot when “the issues presented are no longer ‘live’ or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome.”18

Standing doctrine, in turn, focuses on whether a particular party “has a sufficient relationship with the lawsuit so as to have a ‘justiciable interest’ in its outcome.”19 “The general test for standing in Texas requires that there ‘(a) shall be a real controversy between the parties, which (b) will be actually determined by the judicial declaration sought.’ ”20 This test, the Texas Supreme Court has elaborated, is “parallel[ ]” to the federal test for Article...

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25 practice notes
  • Gilbreath v. Horan, 01-17-00316-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 14 Julio 2022
    ...to appeal trial court judgments." Nephrology Leaders, 573 S.W.3d at 914 (citing Tex. Quarter Horse Ass'n v. Am. Legion Dep't of Tex., 496 S.W.3d 175, 181 (Tex. App.-Austin 2016, no pet.)); see also Torrington Co. v. Stutzman, 46 S.W.3d 829, 843 (Tex. 2000) ("[A]n appealing party may not com......
  • City of Austin v. Util. Assocs., Inc., NO. 03–16–00565–CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 24 Marzo 2017
    ...Alan Wright, et. al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 3529 (3d ed. 2008) )); Texas Quarter Horse Ass'n v. American Legion Dep't of Tex., 496 S.W.3d 175, 180 (Tex. App.–Austin 2016, no pet.) ("In general, the justiciability doctrines serve to bar Texas courts jurisdictionally from issuing a......
  • City of Hous. v. Tex. Propane Gas Ass'n, NO. 03-18-00596-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 18 Julio 2019
    ...on grounds that there is no justiciable controversy between the parties. See Texas Quarter Horse Ass'n v. American Legion Dep't of Tex. , 496 S.W.3d 175, 180 (Tex. App.—Austin 2016, no pet.) (referring to doctrines of ripeness, mootness, and standing as justiciability doctrines derived from......
  • In re Plainscapital Bank, NUMBER 13-16-00592-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 27 Marzo 2017
    ...or from granting court access to personsPage 9 lacking any actual, concrete injury. Tex. Quarter Horse Ass'n v. Am. Legion Dep't of Tex., 496 S.W.3d 175, 179-80 (Tex. App.—Austin 2016, no pet.); see Tex. Ass'n of Bus., 852 S.W.2d at 444-45. To constitute a justiciable controversy, there mus......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • Gilbreath v. Horan, 01-17-00316-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 14 Julio 2022
    ...to appeal trial court judgments." Nephrology Leaders, 573 S.W.3d at 914 (citing Tex. Quarter Horse Ass'n v. Am. Legion Dep't of Tex., 496 S.W.3d 175, 181 (Tex. App.-Austin 2016, no pet.)); see also Torrington Co. v. Stutzman, 46 S.W.3d 829, 843 (Tex. 2000) ("[A]n appealing party may not com......
  • City of Austin v. Util. Assocs., Inc., NO. 03–16–00565–CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 24 Marzo 2017
    ...Alan Wright, et. al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 3529 (3d ed. 2008) )); Texas Quarter Horse Ass'n v. American Legion Dep't of Tex., 496 S.W.3d 175, 180 (Tex. App.–Austin 2016, no pet.) ("In general, the justiciability doctrines serve to bar Texas courts jurisdictionally from issuing a......
  • City of Hous. v. Tex. Propane Gas Ass'n, NO. 03-18-00596-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 18 Julio 2019
    ...on grounds that there is no justiciable controversy between the parties. See Texas Quarter Horse Ass'n v. American Legion Dep't of Tex. , 496 S.W.3d 175, 180 (Tex. App.—Austin 2016, no pet.) (referring to doctrines of ripeness, mootness, and standing as justiciability doctrines derived from......
  • In re Plainscapital Bank, NUMBER 13-16-00592-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • 27 Marzo 2017
    ...or from granting court access to personsPage 9 lacking any actual, concrete injury. Tex. Quarter Horse Ass'n v. Am. Legion Dep't of Tex., 496 S.W.3d 175, 179-80 (Tex. App.—Austin 2016, no pet.); see Tex. Ass'n of Bus., 852 S.W.2d at 444-45. To constitute a justiciable controversy, there mus......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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