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Civil Litigation No. 07-02-0315-CV, 5/12/2003. Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: This is an interlocutory appeal from a trial court order overruling a plea to the jurisdiction and granting a temporary injunction. The suit giving rise to the temporary injunction was brought by the appellee, Sandeep Rao against the appellant, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. In the suit, Rao asserted his free-speech rights had been circumscribed by Tech’s action in dismissing him from Tech’s School of Medicine and sought equitable relief requiring Tech to reinstate him. He sought, and obtained, the temporary injunction in which Tech was ordered to immediately reinstate Rao “as a student in good standing.” HOLDING: Affirmed as modified. Tech contends that Rao’s failure to name an individual in authority as a defendant in his suit deprived the trial court of jurisdiction to consider his claim for reinstatement because Tech, as a state agency, has sovereign immunity against a claim for unlawful actions of its officials. Thus, as no suit of that nature may be maintained against it, the trial court had no jurisdiction to issue its interlocutory injunction. In support of that position, Tech primarily relies upon Bagg v. Univ. of Texas Medical Branch, 726 S.W.2d 582 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 1987, writ ref’d n.r.e.). In that case, the plaintiff pleaded a variety of causes of action arising out of an alleged wrongful employee termination against supervisory employees of the University of Texas Medical Branch and the entity itself. The trial court granted a dismissal and summary judgment against all the defendants. As relevant here, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal against the Medical Branch and, in doing so, opined in rather broad language that suits premised upon the alleged unlawful or unauthorized actions of state officials are not considered acts of the state agency, and because they are not state actions and the state cannot be a proper party to sue, trial courts have no jurisdiction and such suits may only be maintained against the individuals who were alleged to have acted unlawfully. However, in City of Beaumont v. Bouillion, 896 S.W.2d 143 (Tex. 1995), the Texas Supreme Court had occasion to consider whether there was an implied cause of action for damages as a remedy for unconstitutional conduct under the free speech and free assembly clauses of the Texas Constitution. In the course of its opinion, it performed an historical analysis of such constitutional questions and concluded that although no such actions for damages may be maintained, aggrieved persons may assert direct claims for equitablerelief against governmental entities for violations of the Texas Bill of Rights. Earlier, in Director of Dept. of Agriculture & Environment v. Printing Industries Ass’n, 600 S.W.2d 264 (Tex. 1980), the court opined that an entity or person whose rights have been violated by the unlawful action of a state official might bring a suit to remedy the violation or prevent its occurrence. Indeed, in Alcorn v. Vaksman, 877 S.W.2d 390 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 1994, writ denied), and Harrison v. Texas Dep’t of Criminal Justice-Institutional Div., 915 S.W.2d 882 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 1995, no writ), the same court that decided Baggnoted that although there may not be a cause of action for damages, a plaintiff whose constitutional rights have been violated may sue for equitable relief. The trial court had jurisdiction to consider Rao’s request for equitable relief. Tech also argues that the trial court’s stated reasons for issuing the injunction were not sufficiently specific to meet the requirements of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 683. In the recent case of Pinebrook Properties Ltd. v. Brookhaven Lake Prop. Owners Ass’n, 77 S.W.3d 487 (Tex. App. – Texarkana 2002, pet. denied), the court held that a recitation of the reasons an injunction issued was because the defendants had no adequate remedy at law, the rights involved were unique and irreplaceable, and money damages would not be a sufficient remedy were sufficient to meet Rule 683 requisites. The court agrees with that holding. The reasons listed in this injunction are very similar to those before the Pinebrookcourt and are sufficient to comply with Rule 683. The court agrees with Tech that for Rao’s speech activities to be constitutionally protected, they must have addressed a matter of public concern. Id.His column was printed in the university newspaper, a publication which the trial judge could reasonably conclude was of general circulation. Further, the column dealt with forensic pathology and medical technique, matters which the trial judge could reasonably conclude were of public interest and concern. Additionally, the record reveals that Dr. Spencer’s complaint was fact intensive in the sense that it was directed at the references made by Rao in the column. While it is true that certain conduct might be proscribed that has an incidental limitation on speech, such a proscription must further an important public interest, be unrelated to a general suppression of free speech, and be no greater than necessary to the furtherance of that interest. Under the testimony here, the trial judge could reasonably conclude Rao’s conduct did not fit within those incidental limits. The court cannot say the trial judge abused his discretion in granting the temporary injunction. The court agrees that in certain aspects, the injunction is over broad and should be modified. OPINION: Boyd, J.; Johnson, C.J., Quinn and Boyd, JJ. Quinn, J., not participating.

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