Court of Appeals of Texas,
Paul ALLEN, Appellant
ALUMAX ALUMINUM CORPORATION, Appellee.
July 14, 1994.
Appeal from Dallas County.
Attorneys & Firms
John E. Mcfall, Kimberly N. Lonergan, for Alumax Aluminum Corporation.
Dale B. Tillery, for Paul Allen.
BOB DICKENSON, Justice.
*1 This is the second appeal of the same issue. The trial court correctly overruled the motion for new trial which was filed after mandate was issued by the Dallas Court of Appeals. That court had affirmed in part (as to the issue presented by this appeal) and reversed in part (as to a claim of tortious interference which has now been dismissed by claimant), remanding that cause of action to the trial court. We affirm.1
Paul Allen sued Alumax Aluminum Corporation on November 12, 1990, alleging that he was wrongfully discharged because he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Alumax filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the evidence conclusively established that he was discharged pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement which provided that employees (with less than 10 years seniority) who were absent from work for more than one year would be removed from the seniority list. The trial court granted Alumax’s motion for summary judgment on March 12, 1991. Allen’s first appeal was decided by the Dallas Court of Appeals on February 7, 1992.2 The Supreme Court of Texas denied Allen’s application for writ of error on September 9, 1992. On March 5, 1993, the Dallas Court of Appeals rendered a judgment nunc pro tunc which provided in relevant part:
In accordance with this Court’s opinion of February 7, 1992, we REVERSE the trial court’s judgment on appellant’s alleged cause of action that appellee tortiously interfered with appellant’s statutory rights accorded by the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. We REMAND that cause of action to the trial court for further proceedings. In all other respects we AFFIRM the trial court’s judgment. (Emphasis added)
The Dallas Court of Appeals’ opinion dated February 7, 1992, shows that the court overruled Paul Allen’s second point of error. In that point, Allen argued that:
Alumax did not conclusively show as a matter of law there was no genuine issue of material fact about [the] lack of a causal connection between Allen’s workers’ compensation claim and his discharge by Alumax.
On April 12, 1993, the trial court granted Allen’s motion to dismiss his tortious interference claim. Allen then filed a motion for new trial in which he asked the trial court to set aside that portion of the summary judgment which had been affirmed by the Dallas Court of Appeals. That motion was overruled on June 3, 1993, and Allen perfected this appeal.
The matters urged in appellant’s brief in the present appeal3 were decided against him by the Dallas Court of Appeals on February 7, 1992. That ruling is the “law of the case.” See Trevino v. Turcotte, 564 S.W.2d 682 at 685 (Tex.1978), where the court stated:
The doctrine of the law of the case is defined as that principle under which the initial determination of questions of law will be held to govern the case throughout its subsequent stages.
While the application of that doctrine is addressed to the discretion of the court, there is no showing that the trial court abused its discretion in this case.
*2 Moreover, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued a limited mandate in which the only issue on which the trial court was to proceed was the claim for tortious interference. See Wall v. East Texas Teachers Credit Union, 549 S.W.2d 232 (Tex.Civ.App.-Texarkana 1977, writ ref’d), where the supreme court approved the statement that:
When the Supreme Court remands a case and limits a subsequent trial to a particular issue, as in this instance, the trial court is restricted to determination of that particular issue. (Emphasis added)
In this case, the Dallas Court of Appeals remanded the case for a particular issue, and the trial court was restricted to the determination of that particular issue. When Allen dismissed his claim of tortious interference, the only remaining claim had already been affirmed by the Dallas Court of Appeals, and the supreme court had denied Allen’s application for writ of error. Consequently, the trial court was bound by the mandate of the higher court to overrule the motion for rehearing as to that portion of the summary judgment which had been affirmed.
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
This appeal was transferred from the Dallas Court of Appeals to this court pursuant to TEX. GOV’T CODE ANN. § 73.001 (Vernon 1988).
See Allen v. Alumax Aluminum Corporation, No. 05-91-00750-CV (Tex.App.-Dallas, February 7, 1992, writ den’d)(not published).
Appellant argues in two points of error that the trial court erred in granting Alumax’s motion for summary judgment because:
Alumax failed to conclusively establish, as a matter of law, that there was no genuine issue of material fact concerning a causal connection between Allen’s workers’ compensation claim and his discharge from Alumax’s employment.
Alumax’s summary judgment evidence was insufficient to establish conclusively the nonexistence of facts material to any element of Allen’s cause of action.
Both points of error are overruled.