Failure to Include a Trial Date In a Temporary Injunction Order to Enforce a Non-Competition Agreement Will Result in a Void Order
December 17, 2013 Leave a comment
A while back I wrote a post regarding the Fifth Court of Appeals reversing a temporary injunction order because it had failed to describe specifically what trade secrets and proprietary information the company’s former employees were prohibited from releasing. Last week, the First Court of Appeals addressed another requirement for temporary injunction orders in Texas, which, if not met, renders such orders void.
The facts in Conlin, et al. v. Haun, et al., are quite prosaic. Haun sued the Conlins for a violation of their non-compete agreements with the company in which Haun held a 51% interest. During the litigation, the parties reached an agreement regarding the temporary injunctive relief, and the Court signed an order titled “Agreed Temporary Injunction,” which enjoined the Conlins from competing with Haun’s company, and enjoined Haun from tampering with the company’s records and data. The order stated that it was effective “until the trial of this case, or further order of this Court.” The blank space, in which the trial setting date could be written, was not filled.
Several years later, the Conlins moved to dissolve the temporary injunction on several grounds, including an argument that it was void under the Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 683 because it failed to state the reasons for its issuance and set a date for trial. The trial court denied the Conlins’ motion, and they appealed.
On appeal, Haun conceded that the agreed temporary injunction order did not comply with the Rule 683, which, among other things, requires that “[e]very order granting a temporary injunction shall include an order setting the cause for trial on the merits with respect to the ultimate relief sought.” However, he maintained that the Conlins were estopped from challenging the order because they had agreed to it. The Court of Appeals rejected this argument and ordered that the Agreed Temporary Injunction be dissolved as void.
The Court explained that the procedural requirements of Rule 683 are “mandatory” and “an order granting a temporary injunction that does not meet them is subject to being declared void and dissolved.” Therefore, a party who agrees to a void order has agreed to nothing.
Both, the Fourth Court of Appeals in In Re Garza, 126 S.W.3d 268 (Tex. App.–San Antonio 2003, orig. proceeding) and the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in In re Corcoran, 343 S.W.3d 268, 269 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, org. proceeding) have previously rendered similar decisions, finding that the failure of a temporary injunction order to include a specific trial setting resulted in such order being void.
CONCLUSION: Even an agreed temporary injunction order must meet all of the requirements of Rule 683, or it will be void. At the very least, as previously discussed, it must be specific as to what conduct or actions are prohibited, and must include a trial date. Any order that fails to meet these requirements can be reversed on appeal or dissolved by the trial court at any moment, leaving the party who applied for it, unprotected.
For more information regarding protection of trade secrets and enforcement of non-compete agreements in Texas, contact Leiza Dolghih.