Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Laura Binder and Glenn Binder were in their nineties when the trial court dissolved their marriage. The court ordered Glenn to pay $3,302 per month in alimony. Glenn appealed, arguing that that the amount of alimony was a presumptive abuse of discretion because it drove his net monthly income below the poverty threshold in the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines. In support of his argument, Glenn cited Gress v. Gress, where the Supreme Court held that the subsistence limitation in the Guidelines also applied to an alimony award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Guidelines do not apply in this case because the parties have no minor children; and (2) the alimony award was not an abuse of discretion under the circumstances. View "Binder v. Binder" on Justia Law
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After a bench trial, Defendant was convicted of driving during revocation in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-4,108(1). Defendant was sentenced to thirty days of jail time and nine months of probation. Defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction where the only evidence presented at trial besides Defendant’s driving record was the testimony of a local law enforcement officer who testified that he found Defendant driving in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, vacated his sentence, and remanded for resentencing, holding (1) because the Wal-Mart parking lot was open to public access, the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for violating section 60-4,108(1); and (2) the county court committed plain error when it failed to revoke Defendant’s operator’s license for one year as required by section 60-4,108(1). View "State v. Frederick" on Justia Law
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In 2010, Appellant was administratively adjudicated in Kansas to have committed the offense of driving under the influence. In 2013, Appellant was convicted in South Dakota of driving under the influence. Thereafter, the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revoked Appellant’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) for life pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-4,168. The district court affirmed the lifetime revocation. Appellant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in finding that the Kansas administrative license revocation and the South Dakota conviction for driving under the influence were offenses included in section 60-4,168(1)(a) and therefore provided a basis to revoke his CDL. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that out-of-state convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol are included in the provisions of section 60-4,168 pertaining to the revocation of CDLs. View "Klug v. Neb. Dep’t of Motor Vehicles" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sustained injuries at a motel while he was on duty for Union Pacific Railroad Company. Plaintiff sued Union Pacific and the motel. The parties later settled. Thereafter, Union Pacific asserted a contractual right of subrogation to the extent of medical payments made on Plaintiff’s behalf by the Union Pacific Railroad Employees Health Systems. The contract created a lien or right of reimbursement if a third party is liable but not if Union Pacific is liable. The trial court concluded that Union Pacific did not have a valid lien, right of reimbursement or right of subrogation because it was party to the settlement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the unambiguous terms of the contract, Union Pacific did not have a lien or right of reimbursement. View "Kasel v. Union Pacific R.R. Co." on Justia Law
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Appellant was convicted in Douglas County of first degree sexual assault. Appellant later filed a pro se complaint in Lancaster County under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against prosecutors, public defenders, and attorneys purportedly involved in the underlying criminal action. Appellant moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The district court, acting sua sponte, objected that venue was not proper in Lancaster County and, on that basis, also objected to the motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The court then denied Appellant’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis, opining that if Appellant wished to proceed with the action in forma pauperis, he should make his request in Douglas County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Iowa law does not permit denial of in forma pauperis based on a sua sponte objection to venue, the district court erred in denying Appellant in forma pauperis status on that basis. Remanded. View "Castonguay v. Retelsdorf" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Judy Hoffman were divorced in 1994. Judy died intestate in 2007, and Plaintiff was named personal representative of her estate. Defendant, an attorney and Judy’s friend, was the beneficiary of two of Judy’s life insurance policies and her retirement account and received $236,024 from these accounts. Plaintiff brought an action against Defendant alleging breach of fiduciary duty arising out of the attorney-client relationship, breach of fiduciary duty arising out of the duty of a trustee, and conversion. The district court found for Defendant and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) determining that an express trust needed to be created in order to find Defendant liable and in placing the burden to prove such trust on Plaintiff; (2) failing to impose a constructive trust on the insurance proceeds; (3) failing to find that Defendant deviated from the standard of care and committed legal malpractice by accepting and retaining Judy’s death benefit funds given his status as her attorney; and (4) admitting into evidence a photocopy of a note purportedly given from Judy to Defendant. View "Gallner v. Larson" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person in connection with the 2013 shooting death of Kenneth Gunia. On appeal, Defendant argued as his only assignment of error that there was insufficient evidence of premeditation to convict him of first degree murder. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences, holding that the record contained sufficient evidence to support entry of the jury’s verdict of first degree murder. View "State v. Escamilla" on Justia Law
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At issue in this case was the construction of the the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between General Drivers & Helpers Union, Local No. 554 (the Union) and Douglas County. The Union filed a grievance, arguing that the CBA prevented the County from hiring a new employee at a wage above the “start,” or the first step, of the pay scale. The parties disputed the interpretation of the word “start” in the CBA, and both parties filed for summary judgment on the meaning of “start” in the CBA pay rates scale. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the County, concluding that “start” is unambiguous and is the minimum wage or “start” of a pay scale. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the meaning of “start” in the CBA is unambiguous, and summary judgment was proper. View "Gen. Drivers & Helpers Union v. County of Douglas" on Justia Law

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Castellar Partners LLC was retained by appellees (collectively, the AMP parties) to review a “hedge fund portfolio” and the services being provided by another advisor. Castella and one of the AMP parties - AMP Capital Investors Limited (AMPCI), a subsidiary of AMP incorporated in Australia - executed an “Advisory Agreement” under which Castellar was required to provide its services regarding the fund in exchange for certain fees. The AMP parties terminated their relationship with Castellar the next year. Castellar filed suit, alleging that the AMP parties had “recklessly and willfully” misled it in order to obtain its services with regard to the fund. The district court dismissed one of Castellar’s claims, concluding that due to a forum selection clause, the claim for breach of contract was required to be litigated in New South Wales, Australia. The district court certified the dismissal of that claim as a final judgment, and Castella appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the certification was improper, as Castellar’s claims entailed “similar issues” and “related facts,” and all of the parties remain involved in the litigation before the district court. View "Castellar Partners, LLC v. AMP Ltd." on Justia Law

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Defendant pled no contest to one count of aiding and abetting second degree murder. Defendant was sentenced to no less than life imprisonment or more than life imprisonment. Defendant appealed, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective and that his sentence was excessive. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, holding (1) the Court does not reach some of Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claims because the record on direct appeal was insufficient for the Court to do so; (2) Defendant’s remaining claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were without merit; and (3) the sentence imposed was not an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Casares" on Justia Law