Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and theft by unlawful taking. Defendant was sentenced to imprisonment of sixty months for the exploitation of a vulnerable adult conviction and to five to ten years imprisonment for the theft conviction. The sentences were ordered to run consecutively to each other and consecutively to Appellant’s sentences resulting from a separate criminal case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions; and (2) the sentences imposed were not excessive, and the district court did not err in failing to sentence Appellant to probation. View "State v. Dehning" on Justia Law
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Dorothy Pluhacek died at 100 years of age. Thereafter, Margaret Hickey, the Provincial Superioress of the Omaha province of the Notre Dame Sisters, filed an application for information probate of a document that Hickey claimed to be Pluhacek’s valid will. The county court denied informal probate of the document, concluding that the document, which was signed by Pluhacek, did not qualify as a will because the material provisions were in Pluhacek’s handwriting and that a formal proceeding would be required to determine whether Pluhacek had left a valid holographic will. Hickey then filed an amended petition for formal probate of the document. The county court denied formal probate, concluding that because Hicky had not established that the document was in Pluhacek’s handwriting, it was not admissible as a holographic will. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) as a matter of law, the document was a properly executed will under Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-2327; and (2) therefore, the county court erred when it denied formal probate. Remanded for formal probate. View "In re Estate of Pluhacek" on Justia Law
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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

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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