City established right to temporary injunction regarding historic festival

JOE VERA, INDIVIDUALLY AND JOSE VERA D/B/A BORDERFEST ASSOCIATION AND BORDERFEST ASSOCIATION v. CITY OF HIDALGO, A TEXAS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, 13-16-00088-CV (Tex.App— Corpus Christi, January 5, 2017)

This is a dispute between the City of Hidalgo and the BorderFest Association as to who owns the rights and ability to control the BorderFest annual cultural festival.

The BorderFest festival has been held in the City of Hidalgo, Texas for the past thirty-nine years. The Association determined that in 2016 the festival would be held in the neighboring city of McAllen, Texas. Hidalgo sued the Association and Joe Vera, the Assistant City Manager of McAllen for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief regarding ownership of the festival. Vera was the former City Manager of Hidalgo. The City was counter-sued for federal trademark infringement and unfair competition. the Association claimed sole ownership and rights to the BorderFest brand and sought its own injunctive relief against Hidalgo from using the BorderFest mark, name, and goodwill.  After a two-day temporary injunction hearing, the trial court granted Hidalgo’s temporary injunction and prohibited the Association from using the BorderFest name or utilizing the event in McAllen. The Association filed this interlocutory appeal.

The preliminary record shows BorderFest has been held exclusively in Hidalgo for the previous thirty-nine years and has brought the city “fame” over these years. The City had paid the cost of the festival each year, although the Association provided some funds to “defray” the full cost to the City. The City also contributed a large number of personnel and man hours to the festival. The record further shows that the 40th anniversary of the festival being held in Hidalgo was threatened by the actions of the Association agreeing to hold the BorderFest festival in McAllen. Based on these facts, the Court of Appeals held the trial court was within its discretion to grant Hidalgo’s temporary injunction application because Hidalgo plead and proved it had (1) a cause of action against Vera and the Association; (2) a probable right to the relief sought; and (3) a probable, imminent, and irreparable injury in the interim. The trial court’s rulings show that it sought to preserve the status quo because these orders were issued approximately a month prior to BorderFest’s 40th anniversary, while the underlying ownership issues would be resolved later at trial.  The court of appeals expressly disclaimed any aspects of the opinion are meant to address the ultimate resolution of the case and is limited only to a temporary injunction standard of review.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. The Panel includes Justice Benavides, Justice Perkes, and Justice Longoria. Justice Benavides delivered the opinion of the court. To see the representatives for the Appellant and Appellee click here for the Docket Page.