Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

By
The Supreme Court held that “medical assistance” provided to Medicaid recipients includes costs for room and board and other “nonmedical” expenses at nursing facilities, and therefore, those costs can be recovered from the recipient’s estate. In this case, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a petition for allowance of a claim for services provided to the decedent while he resided at two different nursing homes. The county court sustained DHHS’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the services defined as room and board fell within the parameters of services provided under the Medical Assistance Act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that DHHS was statutorily authorized to recover the sums it paid for room and board costs and other expenses from the decedent’s estate. View "In re Estate of Vollmann" on Justia Law

By
At issue in this case was the adjustment of the valuation of three subclasses of residential real property in Douglas County. The Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) issued an order to show cause why it should not increase the valuation of two properties by seven percent and decrease the valuation of a third property by eight percent. TERC voted to adjust the valuations. Douglas County filed a motion to reconsider, which the TERC commissioners overruled. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) TERC’s order to decrease the valuation of one property by eight percent was not supported by competent evidence and was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable; (2) TERC’s order to increase the valuation of the other two properties was supported by competent evidence and was not arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable; and (3) TERC did not abuse its discretion by denying Douglas County’s motion to reconsider its order. View "County of Douglas v. Nebraska Tax Equalization & Review Commission" on Justia Law

By
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

By
The Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) adjusted upward by eight percent the value of the “land use grass” subclass of the agricultural and horticultural land class of real property in Franklin County not receiving special valuation. Franklin County appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed TERC’s order adjusting the Franklin County grassland value upward by eight percent, holding (1) TERC did not err in relying on the statistics prepared by the Property Tax Administrator; (2) there was no merit to Franklin County’s argument that TERC violated Neb. Const. art. VIII by failing to uniformly and proportionally value grasslands in the state; and (3) Franklin County’s remaining assignments of error were without merit. View "County of Franklin v. Tax Equalization & Review Commission" on Justia Law

By
In 2013 and 2014, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued orders and closing notices to holders of surface water permits for natural flow and storage in the Republic River Basin. Several appropriators, on behalf of themselves and a class of farmers who irrigate with water delivered by the Frenchman-Cambridge Irrigation District, subject to Nebraska’s allocation of water under the Republican River Compact, brought these actions alleging regulatory takings claims against the State and the DNR. The district court consolidated the claims and granted the State and the DNR’s motions to dismiss both of the appropriators’ causes of action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the DNR’s streamflow administration did not result in a taking under the Nebraska Constitution because the Compact, as federal law, supersedes the appropriators’ property interests; and (2) the alleged failure of DNR to regulate ground water pumping did not amount to a taking because DNR does not have a duty to regulate ground water. View "Hill v. State" on Justia Law

By
Medicine Creek LLC filed a request for a variance from the Middle Republican Natural Resources District’s (MRNRD) moratorium on new well drilling. MRNRD voted to deny the variance. Medicine Creek sought judicial review pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 46-750 and the Administrative Procedure Act. The district court reversed, concluding that MRNRD’s decision was not supported by the evidence, did not conform to the law, and was therefore arbitrary. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the order denying Medicine Creek’s request for a variance was judicial in nature and was appealable to the district court; and (2) the district court committed plain error by applying the wrong standard of review rather than the de novo standard. Remanded. View "Medicine Creek LLC v. Middle Republican Natural Resources District" on Justia Law

By
David Leon Frederick sent a public records request to the City of Falls City administrator requesting certain records in the physical custody of Falls City and the Falls City Economic Development and Growth Enterprise, Inc. (EDGE). The administrator provided records in the physical custody of Falls City, but EDGE’s executive director refused to provide the requested records to Frederick or Falls City, claiming that EDGE was not a public entity and that its records were not public records. The Supreme Court agreed with EDGE and reversed the district court’s order compelling EDGE to produce the requested records. After Frederick learned that Falls City did not produce all requested records in its possession pursuant to his public record request, he filed a motion to reopen his case against the City and EDGE. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in overruling Frederick’s motion to reopen the case because reopening the case would not lead to any remedy for Frederick. View "Frederick v. City of Falls City" on Justia Law

By
After Joel Woodward was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) a second time, the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued an order revoking Woodward’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) for life. Woodward did not appeal from the lifetime revocation. Woodward later filed motions asking the sentencing court to set aside both DUI convictions pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2264. The sentencing court set aside both DUI convictions. Woodward’s attorney subsequently wrote a letter to the director of the DMV asking that Woodward’s CDL be reinstated or that he be deemed eligible to reapply for a CDL. The director denied the request in a letter. Woodward filed an appeal pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-4,105. The district court dismissed Woodward’s petition on several ground, including that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the director’s letter did not constitute a “final decision or order.” The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the letter from which Woodward appealed was not a “final decision or order” of the director or the DMV under section 60-4,105. View "Woodward v. Lahm" on Justia Law

By
After Douglas County Youth Center terminated Daniel Archie’s employment, Archie brought an administrative appeal. The Douglas County Civil Service Commission reversed the termination and ordered that Archie be reinstated. The district court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed the decisions of the district court and the Commission and ordered that the termination of Archie’s employment be reimposed, concluding that the district court’s order was arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by sufficient, relevant evidence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that sufficient, relevant evidence supported the Commission’s decision and that the decision was not arbitrary and capricious. View "Douglas County v. Archie" on Justia Law

By
Two taxpayers sold their capital stock of a corporation and structured the transaction to comply with the terms of a definitional statute in order to qualify for a special capital gains election. The Nebraska Department of Revenue disallowed the taxpayers’ special capital gains election. The taxpayers filed a petition for redetermination, and the Tax Commissioner denied the petition. The district court affirmed. The taxpayers appealed, asserting that the district court erred in applying the “economic substance” and “sham transaction” doctrines in determining whether they were entitled to the special capital gains election. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the economic substance doctrine and the sham transaction doctrines did not provide a basis to disallow the taxpayers’ election. Remanded. View "Stewart v. Nebraska Dep’t of Revenue" on Justia Law