Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Contracts

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Seller agreed to sell an aerial spraying company to Buyer pursuant to a purchase agreement that contained a covenant not to compete. Seller, his son, and the company (collectively, Seller) subsequently filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the covenant not to compete was overbroad and unenforceable. Buyer counterclaimed. After a trial, the district court found that the noncompete agreement was void and unenforceable. The court did not address Buyer’s counterclaims. Buyer appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. After the cause was remanded, the parties filed a stipulated motion to dismiss without prejudice, jointly requesting dismissal of Buyer’s breach-of-contract counterclaims and Seller’s motion for damages and attorney fees. The district court entered an order of dismissal without prejudice that largely mirrored the language of the parties’ stipulated motion. Buyer then appealed the declaratory judgment ruling. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order appealed from was not a final order, and the Court therefore lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal. View "Last Pass Aviation, Inc. v. Western Cooperative Co." on Justia Law

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Landlord leased commercial real estate to Tenant, a third party. The lease agreement provided on option to purchase with a condition precedent. At the time Tenant assigned this purchase option to Assignees, Tenant had fully performed all obligations under the lease. When Assignees attempted to exercise the purchase option, Landlord denied the attempt, arguing that because of certain rental underpayments, which were later paid in full, Tenant had failed to satisfy the condition precedent. Assignees filed a complaint seeking specific performance of the purchase option. Landlord later moved for specific performance of the terms and provisions of the purchase option. The district court sustained Landlord’s motion, and Assignees purchased the property. The district court then entered judgment in Assignees’ favor and awarded equitable monetary relief for lost rentals. Landlord appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) Landlord was judicially estopped from asserting the condition precedent in avoidance of equitable monetary relief; and (2) Landlord was entitled to offset the monetary award with the interest on the unpaid purchase price. View "O'Connor v. Kearny Junction, LLC" on Justia Law

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Homeowners obtained loans from Bank for the construction of a new home and entered into an agreement with Contractor to complete the new home construction. When Homeowners defaulted on payments owed to Contractor and on both loans, the house was sold at foreclosure, and Homeowners filed for bankruptcy. Contractor filed a fourth amended complaint against Homeowners, who were later dismissed as parties, and Bank. Following a trial the court granted summary judgment for Bank on Contractor’s claims of fraud and civil conspiracy. The Supreme Court reversed. After remand, Contractor filed a fifth amended complaint, which differed from the fourth amended complaint in several respects. The district court determined that the election of remedies doctrine and judicial estoppel required a dismissal of Contractor’s claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Contractor’s claims were consistently premised on the existence of a contract, and therefore, no election was required; and (2) Contractor’s claims were based on different facts and obligations, and therefore, both could be pursued. View "deNourie & Yost Homes, LLC v. Frost" on Justia Law

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Bank foreclosed its loan on residential real estate and resold the property to Buyers. The purchase agreement for the transaction contained an arbitration clause. After Buyers learned that another bank had a superior lien against the real estate they sued Bank for damages. Bank filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the purchase agreement. The district court sustained the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the purchase agreement was governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, and Buyers’ claims were subject to the arbitration clause; and (2) there was no merit to Buyers’ other arguments. View "Wilczewski v. Charter West National Bank" on Justia Law

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A holdover franchisee is a franchisee who receives the benefits of an expired franchise agreement but fails to make payments to the franchisor per the agreement. Donut Holdings, Inc. (DHI) was the Nebraska parent corporation of LaMar’s Donuts International, Inc. (LaMar’s). LaMar’s was a franchise company with nine franchisees, including one in Springfield Missouri that was purchased by Risberg Stores, LLC, a Missouri entity, in 2002. At the time of the purchase, the store was operating under the terms of a 1994 franchise agreement entered into by Risberg Store’s predecessor. DHI filed a claim against Risberg Stores for royalty and marketing fees accruing after June 2009. Risberg Stores argued that it did not owe DHI fees because the parties’ written agreement ended in 2004. The district court ruled in favor of Risberg Stores, concluding that the franchise agreement ended in June 2009 and that DHI was not entitled to any payments thereafter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) DHI, the franchisor, did not have a breach of contract claim against Risberg Stores, the holdover franchisee; and (2) therefore, DHI was not entitled to fees under the contract. View "Donut Holdings, Inc. v. Risberg" on Justia Law
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At the center of this dispute was defective rebar that was incorporated into the construction of concrete pile caps that would form support for the Pinnacle Bank Arena. Some of the pile caps had to be modified in order to provide the necessary structural support for the Arena. The general contractor paid the costs of the correction and sought reimbursement from Drake-Williams Steel, Inc. (DWS), which fabricated the rebar. DWS reimbursed the general contractor and sought coverage from its insurers. The insurers denied the claim and commenced this action to determine their obligations under the policies of insurance. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no coverage under the policies. View "Drake-Williams Steel, Inc. v. Continental Cas. Co." on Justia Law

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RM Campbell Industrial, Inc. entered into a contract with Randall Kramer for construction work on an ethanol plant. The terms of the contract indicated that the contract was between Campbell and KL Process Design Group, LLC. Midwest Renewable Energy, LLC, paid the invoices. When Midwest stopped making payments and KL Process ceased work on the project, Campbell filed suit against Midwest for breach of contract. After a trial, the jury found for Campbell in the amount of $154,510.98. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) concluding that there was sufficient evidence for a jury question in whether KL Process acted as an agent of Midwest in entering into the subcontract with Campbell and whether there was an enforceable contract between Midwest and Campbell; and (2) not finding that Campbell had to prove substantial compliance with the subcontract and not instructing the jury on this. View "RM Campbell Indus. v. Midwest Renewable Energy, LLC" on Justia Law
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The Weitz Company, LLC, a general contractor, submitted a bid on a planned nursing facility. Weitz’s bid incorporated the amount of a bid submitted to Weitz by H&S Plumbing and Heating for the plumbing work and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning parts of the job. The project owner awarded the project to Weitz, but H&S reneged on its bid. Weitz used other subcontractors to complete the project at greater expense. Weitz later sued H&S, claiming breach of contract and promissory estoppel. The court determined that the parties had not formed a contract but enforced H&S’s bid under promissory estoppel, awarding Weitz damages of $292,492. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and the amount of damages, holding that the district court did not err by entering a judgment for Weitz on its promissory estoppel claim and correctly measured Weitz’s damages. View "Weitz Co., LLC v. Hands, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s employment as captain in the Washington County sheriff’s office was terminated after an investigation into his conduct. Plaintiff filed suit against the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 36 and Michael Robinson, the County sheriff, alleging (1) as against Lodge No. 36, breach of contract arising from the Lodge’s refusal to provide representation after he requested it, and (2) as against Robinson, interference with a business relationship, alleging that Robinson obstructed the Lodge’s ability to fulfill its duty of fair representation. The district court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s amended complaint for failure to file a grievance and in concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) did not err in finding that Plaintiff was immune from suit under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. View "Lamb v. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 36" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s employment as captain in the Washington County sheriff’s office was terminated after an investigation into his conduct. Plaintiff filed suit against the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 36 and Michael Robinson, the County sheriff, alleging (1) as against Lodge No. 36, breach of contract arising from the Lodge’s refusal to provide representation after he requested it, and (2) as against Robinson, interference with a business relationship, alleging that Robinson obstructed the Lodge’s ability to fulfill its duty of fair representation. The district court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s amended complaint for failure to file a grievance and in concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) did not err in finding that Plaintiff was immune from suit under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. View "Lamb v. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 36" on Justia Law