Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Landlord – Tenant

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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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Lionel Simeus filed a complaint against RGR Company LLC with the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights for housing discrimination in violation of section 11.06.020(b) of the Lincoln Municipal Code and 42 U.S.C. 3604(b) of the federal Fair Housing Act. The Commission determined that RGR discriminated against Simeus on the basis of race and national origin and, on behalf of Simeus, filed a charge of discrimination against RGR. After a hearing, the Commission found in favor of Simeus. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission did not establish by a preponderance of the evidence that RGR’s proffered reasons for its negative treatment of Simeus were a pretext for discrimination or that Simeus was the victim of intentional discrimination. View "RGR Co., LLC v. Lincoln Comm’n on Human Rights" on Justia Law

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A Landlord leased separate properties to two different sets of Tenants using nearly identical written documents. This appeal concerned a dispute between the Landlord and Tenants regarding whether the leases were enforceable for their stated five-year terms or whether a clause providing for “annual review of rental rates” resulted in unenforceable “agreements to agree.” The Landlord sued the Tenants in separate actions, seeking a declaratory judgment to determine its rights under the leases. The district court concluded that the leases were valid and enforceable for their five-year terms. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that the terms of the leases were clear and unambiguous and contemplated only an annual review without requiring an annual agreement. View "Gibbons Ranches, LLC v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 (SFI) owned an apartment complex containing approximately 200 apartments. Through its agent, SFI leased an apartment to Michelle Carroll. The lease included provisions requiring Carroll to pay for repairs caused by her use of the unit and to maintain renter’s insurance including “a personal liability coverage to a minimum of $100,000.00.” A fire occurred in the apartment rented to Carroll. Both the apartment and the surrounding building were damaged. SFI had $10 million of total insurance coverage on the apartment complex. The policy provided for a deductible of $250,000 per occurrence unless a specific deductible applied. The parties stipulated that SFI sustained damages in excess of $100,000 resulting from the fire, which damages were not covered by its insurance policy. But neither the total amount of damages nor the amount of any insurance recovery by SFI was included in the evidence. Carroll had renter’s insurance in place at that time, and she submitted a claim to her insurer. Carroll’s insurer paid her $1,500, representing only her damages under “Loss of Use Coverage.” In previous cases, the Nebraska Supreme Court applied an antisubrogation rule to prohibit a landlord’s insurer from seeking reimbursement from the tenant of fire losses paid by insurance. In this appeal, the Court declined to extend the antisubrogation rule to a landlord’s uninsured losses allegedly caused by its tenant’s negligence. Therefore the Court reversed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the tenant. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 v. Carroll" on Justia Law

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Landlord and Tenant signed a lease agreement for a rental property that required Tenant to obtain a liability and renter's insurance policy at his expense. Tenants obtained a renter's protection policy of insurance. The house was later damaged by fire caused by a child using a lighter. Landlord's insurer (Insurer) paid for the loss. This subrogation action was brought against Tenants in Landlord's name. The district court dismissed the action, concluding (1) the lease provision requiring Tenant to obtain renter's insurance did not permit Landlord or Insurer to bring a subrogation action against Tenants; and (2) Tenants were coinsureds under Landlord's fire insurance policy, and Insurer could not subrogate against its coinsureds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the terms of the lease did not overcome the presumption that Tenant was coinsured under Landlord's fire insurance policy, Landlord and Insurer could not bring a subrogation action against Tenants. View "Beveridge v. Savage" on Justia Law

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Tenant rented a house pursuant to a lease agreement with Landlord. Tenant later lease another of Landlord's properties pursuant to a lease agreement. For both properties, Landlord charged Tenant additional monthly "appliance fees" in excess of the stated rent amounts. Tenant brought this action against Landlord for noncompliance with the terms of her two lease agreements and for failure to return her security deposit. Landlord counterclaimed for damages. After a bench trial, judgment was entered in favor of Tenant. Tenant was represented by senior certified law students operating under the supervision of an attorney who was the director of the general civil practice clinic at Creighton University School of Law. Landlord argued that attorney fees could not be covered because Tenant's attorneys were working pro bono. The district court disagreed and awarded statutory fees. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in favor of Tenant but modified the designee of the attorney fee award, directing the district court to amend its order so as to award the attorney fees directly to the legal services provider. View "Black v. Brooks" on Justia Law

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Owners of a duplex insured a building through two concurrently issued, identical policies - one for each unit. A fire damages the entire structure, and Insurer paid the owners' claims under both policies. Insurer then brought this action to determine its subrogation rights against the tenant (Tenant) of one of the duplex units, who was allegedly negligent in starting the fire. Insurer conceded the pursuant to Tri-Par Investments v. Sousa, Tenant was an implied coinsured under the policy covering the unit he lived in. Therefore, Insurer sought to recoup payments made for the damage only to the unit Tenant did not live in. The district court granted Tenant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) granting Tenant's motion for summary judgment, as the rule in Tri-Par Investments applies to bar subrogation against a duplex tenant as to both sides of the building; (2) ruling that Tenant was a coinsured with Owners under Nebraska law; (3) failing to rule that Insurer was allowed to subrogate against Tenant; and (4) denying Insurer's request for declaratory judgment. View "Buckeye State Mut. Ins. Co. v. Humlicek" on Justia Law