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Court voids board order made while case still on appeal

A Texas appellate court issued an unusual decision voiding a board order made while the board did not actually have control of the case, in a March 15 decision.

(Dass v. Texas Board of Professional Engineers)

After engineer Raghunath Dass’s license was suspended in 2012 for violations of a board order regarding the use of an engineering seal, Dass appealed. A circuit court struck some of the board’s finding and remanded the case, but Dass again appealed, this time to the Court of Appeals of Texas. Despite the pendency of that appeal, the board went ahead with the remand, eliminated the findings faulted by the circuit court, and issued an amended order.

Dass then dropped his appeal of the circuit court judgment on the grounds that the amended board order had made his objections moot, but filed a separate appeal of the new amended order. That appeal eventually reached the Court of Appeals.

The procedural problem was that the remanded order was issued while Dass’s appeal was still pending before the Court of Appeals. At that point, the court had possession of the case and the board had no power to issue a decision. Because of that, the amended order was void. And, because the amended order was void, there was no existing board decision that the court could review.

“Having held that the Board’s amended order is void because the Board lacked jurisdiction to modify its original order while that order was on appeal, and thus, that the district court and this Court lack jurisdiction to review the merits of the amended order, we vacate both the Board’s order and the district court’s summary judgment and dismiss the case,” the court ruled.