Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Still images from a video of Plaintiff conducting a legitimate transaction at an ATM were placed on the Lincoln-Lancaster County Crime Stoppers (Crime Stoppers) Web site with text stating that Plaintiff had used someone’s stolen credit card. Plaintiff sued the Crime Stoppers and the City of Lincoln, alleging that the postings on the Web site constituted libel, slander, and defamation and that Plaintiff’s right to privacy was violated because the postings placed her in a false light. After a jury trial, the district court found in Plaintiff’s favor and awarded her injunctive relief and damages in the amount of $259,217. The City appealed. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the district court’s findings that the communication was not made pursuant to a qualified privilege and that Plaintiff was entitled to both general and special damages; (2) affirmed the district court’s monetary award; but (3) vacated the district court’s award of injuctive relief because such relief was not requested in Plaintiff’s complaint. View "Funk v. Lincoln-Lancaster County Crime Stoppers" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Wilmer Interiano-Lopez was living in Sioux City, Iowa, and working for Tyson at a meatpacking plant in Dakota City, Nebraska. One of his jobs involved cutting the stomach or “paunch” of cows to allow the contents to fall out as they were processed on the “dump paunch line.” One day, Interiano-Lopez was working with a trainee who was hanging meat incorrectly and it was falling off the hooks as it passed down the dump paunch line. Interiano-Lopez had to lift and place the meat back on the hooks to complete his work, and his hands and arms became increasingly fatigued. At one point, a paunch fell from the hook and hit Interiano-Lopez on the right shoulder. He felt a pop in his shoulder and began experiencing severe pain and loss of strength in his arm. Interiano-Lopez was taken to the plant infirmary and thereafter to a hospital emergency room. He was diagnosed with a shoulder separation and was referred for orthopedic evaluation and treatment. In March 2014, Interiano-Lopez, through counsel, filed a petition in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court seeking a determination of the rights and liabilities of the parties regarding the dump paunch line. Interiano-Lopez sought to be declared permanently and totally disabled or, in the alternative, to be awarded temporary total disability benefits, ongoing medical benefits, and vocational rehabilitation training. Tyson answered, including what it characterized as a counterclaim. Tyson denied liability, alleged Interiano-Lopez’ physical problems were caused by a preexisting condition, and alleged Interiano-Lopez had “received some workers’ compensation benefits for which [Tyson] is entitled to a credit.” The compensation court dismissed the petition but proceeded to trial on Tyson’s counterclaim and found Interiano-Lopez had failed to prove a workplace injury. Interiano-Lopez appealed. Because the Supreme Court concluded the compensation court acted without authority and in excess of its powers by proceeding to trial rather than dismissing the cause, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court and remanded the case with directions to dismiss. View "Interiano-Lopez v. Tyson Fresh Meats" on Justia Law

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Lawrence Bixenmann tripped and fell on a stake that the owner of Dickinson Land Surveyors (Dickinson) had placed on the property of Lawrence and Norma Bixenmann while performing a land survey. The Bixenmanns brought this negligence action against Dickinson. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Dickinson, concluding that the Bixenmanns were required to present expert testimony as to the standard of care required of surveyors and that the “common knowledge” exception to the requirement of expert testimony did not apply. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on a different ground, holding that there was no privity of contract between the Bixenmanns and Dickinson and no facts establishing a duty to the Bixenmanns, and therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Dickinson. View "Bixenmann v. Dickinson Land Surveyors, Inc." on Justia Law
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Susan Edwards slipped on a piece of watermelon while shopping at a grocery store operated by Hy-Vee, Inc. and fell. Approximately six feet from where Edwards fell a man was handing out watermelon samples to customers. Plaintiff sued Hy-Vee for her injuries. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Hy-Vee, concluding that Hy-Vee did not create the hazardous condition or have constructive knowledge of the watermelon on the floor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was appropriate where there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Hy-Vee created or had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition. View "Edwards v. Hy-Vee, Inc." on Justia Law
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Hilda Graham (Hilda), the owner of a certificate of deposit (CD), changed the payable-on-death beneficiary to Elaine Cisneros (Cisneros) in 2013. That same year, Hilda appointed Gregory Graham (Graham) as her power of attorney. Graham used the power of attorney to cash the CD and deposit the proceeds into a checking account with right of survivorship that he co-owned with Hilda. When Hilda died, the balance in the checking account became Graham’s by operation of law. Cisneros filed a complaint against Graham. The district court entered summary judgment for Cisneros, concluding that Graham’s actions were fraudulent under a theory of constructive fraud. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err (1) when it determined that Graham lacked authority under the power of attorney to cash the CD and deposit the proceeds into a checking account; (2) when it granted summary judgment for Cisneros’ because there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Hilda ratified Graham’s actions; and (3) when it denied an award of attorney fees to Cisneros. View "Cisneros v. Graham" on Justia Law
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Pittman filed a negligence action for injuries he sustained when he was struck by a vehicle while standing in or near a parking lot owned and maintained by 2nd Street. The driver of the vehicle was Rivera, another patron who had been forcibly removed from 2nd Street earlier that evening by an employee of 2nd Street. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that Rivera’s conduct in striking Pittman with his vehicle was not reasonably foreseeable and that therefore, 2nd Street did not breach its duty of reasonable care. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed, agreeing that 2nd Street owed a general duty based on premises liability and that when Rivera returned to the premises, driving a vehicle, it was not reasonably foreseeable that Rivera would use his vehicle to assault Pittman. View "Pittman v. Rivera" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident. Plaintiff brought this personal injury action against the City of Gering and Scotts Bluff County under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act. The City and the County admitted liability, leaving Plaintiff’s claim for damages the only matter at issue in the ensuing bench trial. After the trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $575,203. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) issues related to Defendants’ motion to compel discovery were reviewable in this appeal; (2) the district court did not err when it sustained hearsay objections to evidence offered in support of the motion to compel; (3) the district court did not err when it overruled the motion to continue the trial in order to allow discovery; (4) the district court was not clearly wrong in its findings that Plaintiff’s condition was caused by the accident and that a surgery performed on Plaintiff was necessary; and (5) the district court did not err when it awarded damages related to the challenged surgery. View "Moreno v. City of Gering" on Justia Law
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Kevin Pearce (Appellant) worked as an agent of Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company. Appellant used his personal computers to conduct work for Mutual and stored both personal and client information on the computers. After Appellant’s agency relationship was terminated, Mutual retained Pearce’s personal computers and files, allegedly to protect confidential client information. Pearce refused to give Mutual the passwords to his computers, and Mutual refused to return the computers until the confidential information was removed. Mutual turned Pearce’s computers and files over to Continuum Worldwide Corporation, a security firm, for safekeeping. Appellant then filed a replevin action against Mutual and Continuum (Appellees). Appellees filed a motion to stay and compel arbitration asking the district court to order Appellant to participate in an already-filed arbitration with another entity related to the same issues. Appellant filed his own motion to compel arbitration in the replevin action seeking an order requiring Appellees to participate in the pending arbitration underway between Appellant and the third party. The district court denied Appellant’s motion to compel arbitration. Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the interlocutory appeal, holding that the order denying Appellant’s motion to compel arbitration was not a final, appealable order for the Court to review. View "Pearce v. Mutual of Omaha Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Kim Magana was a parent of a student in the Scottsbluff Public School District (School District) and a member of the School District’s school board (Board). On Magana’s advice, a student authored a letter critical of the curriculum of Patricia Sulu, a teacher at Scottsbluff Senior High School, and mailed it to the School District and the Board. Sulu subsequently resigned. Thereafter, Sulu sued Magana on the theory of tortious interference with a business relationship or expectancy. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Magana. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Magana’s actions were “not unjustified” within the meaning of the elements of tortious interference with a business expectancy because Magana provided truthful information and honest advice. View "Sulu v. Magana" on Justia Law
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Appellant was a bystander in an incident where two deputies of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department took a minor student into custody. Appellant alleged that the deputies injured her by negligently knocking her into a wall and to the ground during the incident. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants - Douglas County and the elected sheriff of the County. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the County and sheriff. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding that there was no issue of material fact in this negligence action that Defendants did not breach their duty, and Defendants were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. View "Phillips v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law
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