Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellants' claims of defamation and product disparagement under Nebraska's Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 87-301 to 87-306, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Appellees were entitled to summary judgment on Appellants' claims. Appellants were tanning salons that, from 2015 to 2017, allegedly accounted for up to seventy-one percent of the known tanning salons in the Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska markets. Appellees engaged in activities related to cancer education and prevention, focusing in 2014 on the dangers of indoor tanning. In 2015, Appellants filed a complaint alleging violations of the UDTPA for deceptive trade practices and product disparagement and defamation. The district court granted Appellees' motion for summary judgment and dismissed Appellants' claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that there were no genuine disputes as to any material facts and that Appellees were entitled to summary judgment on Appellants' defamation and product disparagement claims. View "JB & Associates, Inc. v. Nebraska Cancer Coalition" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court overruling Defendant's motion for discharge on statutory and constitutional speedy trial grounds, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Defendant was not entitled to discharge. The State filed an information against Defendant charging him with theft by receiving stolen property and other offenses. After the trial was continued several times Defendant filed a motion for discharge on statutory and constitutional speedy trial grounds. The district court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed after applying the four factor-test set forth in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), holding that neither Defendant's statutory nor constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated. View "State v. Lovvorn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the county court construing Joan Jane Barger's will, holding that the court did not err. In this contest between family members over the decedent's will, the Supreme Court held that the county court did not err by (1) considering extrinsic evidence after failing to determine whether the will was ambiguous; (2) finding that Joan's intent was to distribute her property designated as property held by a trust even though the trust had been terminated; (3) determining the trust was terminated prior to Joan's death; and (4) finding that certain children were not prohibited from taking under article V of the will due to an earlier will contest. View "In re Estate of Barger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming Defendant's conviction of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, first offense, holding that, assuming a warrant for Defendant's blood draw was invalid, the good faith exception applied and exclusion of the blood evidence was not required. After a bench trial before the county court, Defendant appealed his conviction to the district court. Defendant argued that the county court erred in overruling his motion to suppress his blood test on the grounds that the affidavit supporting the warrant for the blood draw was insufficient to support a probable cause finding. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) even assuming that the warrant was insufficient to support a finding of probable cause, the good faith exception set forth in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), applied; and (2) therefore, the district court did not err in affirming Defendant's conviction. View "State v. Kruse" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Plaintiffs did not sustain their claim to quiet title by adverse possession to a six-foot tract of land owned by Defendants, abutting landowners, holding that Plaintiffs failed to prove the necessary elements to support a claim of adverse possession of the disputed land. After a trial, the court entered an order of dismissal, finding that Plaintiffs' actions regarding Defendants' land did not sustain a claim of quiet title by adverse possession. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding insufficient notorious use of the disputed land to sustain a claim for adverse possession. View "Siedlik v. Nissen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for the City of Scottsbluff, Nebraska and dismissing Plaintiff's claim of discrimination and retaliation under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA), holding that the City was entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff, a former police officer for the City, was terminated when he refused to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination (FFDE). Plaintiff brought this action alleging discrimination and retaliation. The district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) based on the undisputed evidence in the record, the City could lawfully require Plaintiff to undergo an FFDE under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1107.02(1)(j); and (2) because Plaintiff alleged that the City retaliated against him for expressing disapproval of his fellow employees' actions, as to his employer's actions, there was not a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Plaintiff engaged in protected activity pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1114(3). View "McPherson v. City of Scottsbluff" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, holding that, under the doctrine set forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), Plaintiff's claims were not cognizable under section 1983. Plaintiff moved out of the Johnson Lake area after harassment protection orders were issued against him. Although Plaintiff was given a "ban notice" he repeatedly trespassed, Plaintiff received two convictions for trespass. In the instant complaint, Plaintiff allegedly that he was unconstitutionally excluded from the Johnson Lake area in that he could not travel or reside there or engage in recreation and his occupation. The district court found in favor of Defendants on all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's convictions for trespassing were fundamentally inconsistent with the various civil claims alleged in his complaint, and therefore, Plaintiff's section 1983 claims were not cognizable under the Heck doctrine. View "Maloley v. Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant for third degree assault on an officer, holding that there was no error in the jury instructions. Defendant was in a hospital emergency room after ingesting methamphetamine and was administered medications by hospital personnel. The medications, however, caused Defendant to become agitated rather than relaxing him. Defendant subsequently assaulted an officer. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred when it refused his proposed insanity defense instruction and instead gave an instruction regarding both voluntary and involuntary intoxication. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err when it refused Defendant's proposed insanity defense instruction; (2) the evidence did not support an instruction regarding both voluntary and involuntary intoxication; and (3) the intoxication instruction given in this case correctly stated the law and was not misleading. View "State v. Bigelow" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Defendant guilty of four counts each of murder in the first degree, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person and sentencing Defendant to death, holding that the district court did not err in accepting Defendant's pleas of no contest. During the criminal proceedings, the trial court granted Defendant's motion to represent himself and accepted Defendant's waiver of his right to a jury trial. Defendant entered a plea of no contest to every count. After a sentencing hearing, Defendant was sentenced to death for each of the four murder counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant was competent to enter his pleas of no contest, and the pleas were valid; (2) the court did not commit reversible error when it allowed Defendant to proceed pro se; (3) the trial court did not err in determining that Defendant was competent; (4) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant's motion to preclude the death penalty as a violation of the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the state and federal constitutions; and (5) Defendant's challenges to the constitutionality of the death penalty procedure were unavailing. View "State v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the order of the district court modifying the parenting plan agreed to by Anne VanSkiver and Todd VanSkiver and approved by the district court, holding that the order of modification was warranted by a material change in circumstances, and the court did not improperly delegate its authority to determine parenting time. When the marriage between the parties was dissolved Anne was granted legal and physical custody of the parties' two minor children, subject to the parenting plan at issue. Anne later moved to modify and suspend Todd's parenting time pending family therapy. The district court modified the parenting plan but did not order family therapy. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified for clarity, holding (1) the district court's order suspended Todd's parenting time entirely, and the court did not abuse its discretion in this regard; and (2) Anne showed a material change in circumstances affecting the best interests of the children, and the district court did not improperly delegate to the minor children the right to determine whether to exercise parenting time. View "VanSkiver v. VanSkiver" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law