Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder. The conviction arose from the fatal shooting of Gary Holmes inside a convenience store. The district court sentenced Appellant to life imprisonment. On appeal, Appellant’s sole assignment of error was that there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict. Specifically, Appellant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to identify him as the shooter. The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s conviction and sentence, holding that the evidence, if believed by a trier of fact, was sufficient to establish Appellant’s identity as the shooter beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law
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This matter arose from Plaintiff’s termination against Nebraska Machinery Company (NMC) after thirty-eight years of employment. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against NMC seeking damages for wrongful discharge in violation of Nebraska’s Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (FEPA), and public policy. After a hearing, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of NMC. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s assignments of error were without merit and that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of NMC. View "Oldfield v. Nebraska Machinery Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant seeking to establish paternity, custody, and support of the parties’ minor child. Thereafter, Plaintiff moved to disqualify Defendant’s privately retained legal counsel. The district court granted the motion. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, which the district court denied. Defendant then filed a purported appeal from the court’s order, assigning seven errors relating to the district court’s disqualification of her attorney. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) this Court improperly exceeded its statutory and constitutional authority twenty years ago when it adopted the so-called Richardson exception to the final order requirement, and therefore, the Court’s line of decisions purporting to authorize an interlocutory appeal are hereby overruled; and (2) because the appeal from the order at issue in this case is not statutorily authorized, the appeal is dismissed. View "Heckman v. Marchio" on Justia Law

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Jay Bergmeier filed a complaint for dissolution of marriage. Nanci Bergmeier filed a counter-complaint. The district court filed a decree of dissolution of marriage that (1) determined Jay’s future termination payments and extended termination payments that he was expected to receive after the dissolution as a “captive agent” of State Farm Insurance Company were marital property and awarded Nanci a portion thereof, (2) divided the parties’ liabilities and other assets, and (3) awarded Nanci alimony and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed in part as modified and in part reversed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in determining that Jay’s termination payments and extended termination payments under his contract with State Farm were marital property; (2) erred in assigning a specific value to the termination payments and in awarding Nanci fifty percent of the termination payments and extended termination payments; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in its award of alimony. Remanded. View "Bergmeier v. Bergmeier" on Justia Law
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Defendant was charged with driving under the influence. Prior to trial, the State filed a motion for an order in limine seeking to prohibit Defendant from offering evidence regarding a “choice of evils” defense. Defendant offered a proposed jury instruction stating that the jury must find her not guilty if it found she had acted to avoid a greater harm. The county court sustained the State’s motion in limine and refused Defendant’s proposed instruction. The State ultimately moved for a mistrial due to “the accumulated effect of statements and questions” by defense counsel that the court determined were in violation of its ruling on the motion in limine and which could affect the impartiality of the jurors. The county court sustained the State’s motion and declared a mistrial. The court then denied Defendant’s plea in bar in which Defendant asked that the case be dismissed with prejudice because a retrial would violate constitutional protections against double jeopardy. The district court affirmed the county court’s rulings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining (1) that the county court did not abuse its discretion when it found a manifest necessity to declare a mistrial, and (2) that double jeopardy did not bar a retrial. View "State v. Todd" on Justia Law
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Ginger Cove Common Area Company sued Scott Wiekhorst for unpaid assessments. Wiekhorst filed a counterclaim alleging that Ginger Cover violated its fiduciary duty. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment against Wiekhorst. Wiekhorst appealed, challenging an order entered two months earlier that overruled his motion to vacate or set aside an order of sanctions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Wiekhorst properly waited until final judgment to appeal; but (2) because Wiekhorst failed to present a record to support his assigned error, this Court affirms the lower court’s decision regarding that error. View "Ginger Cove Common Area Co. v. Wiekhorst" on Justia Law

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Jerry Morgan purchased property by obtaining a loan secured by a deed of trust. Morgan conveyed the property to his company, Midland Properties, LLC, and managed the property as a rental. Wells Fargo, N.A., which had been assigned the lender’s interest in the promissory note and deed of trust, initiated a nonjudicial foreclosure on the deed of trust, citing Morgan’s failure to make payments as they became due. HBI, LLC purchased the property at a trustee’s sale and conveyed the property to H&S Partnership, LLP. Morgan and Midland Properties (collectively, Appellants) filed an amended complaint against Wells Fargo, HBI, and H&S alleging wrongful foreclosure of a deed of trust, quiet title, tortious interference with business relationships, and declaratory relief. The district court granted summary judgment for Wells Fargo. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly excluded evidence for lack of foundation and hearsay; (2) the evidence did not support Appellants’ claims or establish a genuine issue of material fact; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellants’ motion for leave to amend their complaint. View "Midland Properties, LLC v. Wells Fargo, N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2011, eighty-six-year-old Carl Landgraf executed two joint warranty deeds conveying approximately 1,000 acres of farmland to Gail Neumeister and Marlene Neumeister. In 2012, Landgraf executed deeds to fix an error in the earlier deeds. After Landgraf’s death, Clarence Mock, as special administrator of Landgraf’s estate, sued the Neumeisters, alleging that the deeds were the product of undue influence and should be set aside. Following a trial, the district court found in favor of the Neumeisters on the claim of undue influence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Mock did not meet his burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence that the deeds were the result of undue influence. View "Mock v. Neumeister" on Justia Law
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The State filed juvenile petitions alleging that the three children of Mother and Father came within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a) due to the faults and habits of their parents. The juvenile court found the allegations of the petitions were true as to every child. The orders of adjudication placed custody of the children with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and ordered speech and language and early childhood development assessments for two of the children. Mother and Father, however, refused to complete consent forms necessary to authorize the assessments ordered by the court. Consequently, the court appointed an “educational surrogate” for both children. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile court did not err in ordering Mother and Father to show cause why they should not be held in contempt and subsequently appointing an education surrogate while the adjudications were pending in the Court of Appeals; and (2) the orders appointing an educational surrogate were not imposed as a sanction for civil contempt. View "In re Interest of Becka P." on Justia Law
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The Nebraska Department of Revenue and the acting Tax Commissioner denied, in part, the requested refunds of Farmers Cooperative and Frontier Cooperative Co. (collectively, the Cooperatives). The district court affirmed. The Cooperatives sought refunds of sales and use taxes paid on the purchase of repairs and parts for agricultural machinery and equipment under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-2708.01. At issue in these consolidated appeals was how the phrase “depreciable repairs or parts” within section 77-2708.01 should be interpreted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in affirming the partial denial of the Cooperatives’ requested refunds based upon its interpretation of section 77-2708.01. View "Farmers Cooperative v. State" on Justia Law