Injunction Law

Injunction Lawyer Austin Texas

Mar 14, 2013 — by Jeff Mundy
Tags: Civil Procedure

 

Trial courts possess the inherent power to modify final injunctive orders to enforce a judgment or accommodate changed conditions. Harris Cnty. Appraisal Dist. v. West, 708 S.W.2d 893, 896 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1986, orig. proceeding). This Court has jurisdiction to hear an appeal of a trial court's ruling on a motion to modify or dissolve a permanent injunction based upon allegations of changed circumstances. City of Tyler v. St. Louis Sw. Ry., 405 S.W.2d 330, 333 (Tex. 1966). We apply a two-step inquiry when reviewing the grant or denial of a such a motion. First, we must consider whether the evidence shows actual changed circumstances. See City of San Antonio v. Singleton, 858 S.W.2d 411, 412 (Tex. 1993).

 

Absent changed circumstances, a trial court lacks the authority to modify a final, permanent injunction. Id. Second, if relevant circumstances have changed, we must determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in ruling upon the requested modification. See Smith v. O'Neill, 813 S.W.2d 501, 502--03 (Tex. 1991).*fn1

The party seeking modification has the burden of demonstrating that changed circumstances require modifying the injunction and that the trial court could reasonably have reached only one decision on that issue. See Chase Manhattan Bank v. Bowles, 52 S.W.3d 871, 879 (Tex. App.-Waco 2001, no pet.); City of Seagoville v. Smith, 695 S.W.2d 288, 289 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1985, no writ)

The abuse of discretion standard of review means different things in different contexts. In general, we do not defer to the trial court on questions of law, and we defer to a trial court's factual findings if they are supported by evidence. Perry Homes v. Cull, 258 S.W.3d 580, 597--98 (Tex. 2008). The test is whether the court acted without reference to any guiding rules or principles. Cire v. Cummings, 134 S.W.3d 835, 838--39 (Tex. 2004). Under this standard, the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence are not independent grounds of error, but are relevant factors in assessing whether the trial court abused its discretion. Zieba v. Martin, 928 S.W.2d 782, 786 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1996, no writ). "When neither party requests findings of fact and conclusions of law, it is implied that the trial court made all fact findings necessary to support its judgment." Sixth RMA Partners, L.P. v. Sibley, 111 S.W.3d 46, 52 (Tex. 2003).*fn2

Modification of an injunction may be appropriate when changed circumstances render an injunction "unnecessary or improper." Murphy v. McDaniel, 20 S.W.3d 873, 878 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2000, no pet.). 

We have said that "[w]hen the issue is whether changed circumstances warrant a modification of prior injunctive orders, a balancing of equities is not only appropriate but is also required." State v. Associated Metals & Minerals Corp., 616 S.W.2d 305, 311 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1981), rev'd on other grounds, 635 S.W.2d 407 (Tex. 1982). 

In the area of real estate covenants, established equity-balancing principles dictate that "'[w]hen the disproportion between harm and benefit is the sole reason for [not enforcing a restriction on land use], the disproportion must be one of considerable magnitude.'" Cowling v. Colligan, 312 S.W.2d 943, 946 (Tex. 1958) (quoting Restatement (First) of Property § 563 cmt. c (1944)). Thus, to address the Schurings' arguments, we analyze whether the record supports the trial court's implied finding that complying with the injunction will not create disproportionate harm of a considerable magnitude for the Schurings. See id.

Schuring v. Fosters Mill Village Community Assoc., (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 2013).

 

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