Arkansas State Plant Board v. Johnson (Majority)

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Justia Opinion Summary

In this companion case to Arkansas State Plant Board v. Bell, __ S.W.3d __, which the Court handed down on May 23, 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal from the circuit court's temporary restraining order (TRO) that enjoined the Arkansas State Plant Board and its officers and members (collectively, the Plant Board) from enforcing its agency rule limiting the use of dicamba herbicides after April 15, 2018, holding that because the Plant Board had since repealed and replaced the rule and the TRO had expired by operation of law, the appeal was moot.

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Cite as 2019 Ark. 193 SUPREME COURT OF ARKANSAS No. CV-18-362 ARKANSAS STATE PLANT BOARD AND TERRY WALKER, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR OF THE ARKANSAS STATE PLANT BOARD APPELLANTS Opinion Delivered June 6, 2019 APPEAL FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 47OCV-18-62] V. HONORABLE TONYA M. ALEXANDER, JUDGE GARY JOHNSON; RANDY JOHNSON; DAVIS FARM PARTNERSHIP/ROBERT TYLER DAVIS, ET AL. APPEAL DISMISSED. APPELLEES JOSEPHINE LINKER HART, Justice This is a companion case to Arkansas State Plant Board v. Bell, 2019 Ark. 164, ___ S.W.3d ___, which we handed down on May 23, 2019. As in Bell, the Arkansas State Plant Board, Terry Walker, in his official capacity as director of the Arkansas State Plant Board, Otis Howe, in his official capacity as chair of the Arkansas State Plant Board, and members of the Arkansas State Plant Board (collectively, the “Plant Board”) appeal the circuit court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) that enjoined the Plant Board from enforcing its agency rule limiting the use of dicamba herbicides after April 15, 2018. On appeal, the Plant Board makes the exact argument that it did in Bell: (A) The circuit court lacked jurisdiction to enjoin the Plant Board’s ruling limiting the use of dicamba herbicides because the complaint is barred by sovereign immunity; and (B) The complaint fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted on this issue because (1) there was no likelihood of success on the merits demonstrated; (2) it fails to plead irreparable harm; (3) an adequate remedy at law exists; (4) there was no ripe justiciable controversy; and (5) state agencies must first submit all proposed rules and regulations to the governor for approval, followed by review and approval by the legislature before finalization did not demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits. However, the Plant Board has since repealed and replaced this rule, and the TRO has expired by operation of law. Accordingly, as we did in Bell, we dismiss the appeal as moot. Appeal dismissed. Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Jennifer L. Merritt, Senior Ass’t Att’y Gen., for appellant. Stoner Law PLLC, by: Kyle Stoner, for appellees. 2