Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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In this county court probate case, the Supreme Court affirmed as modified the judgment of the probate court determining that a son must reimburse his mother's estate $190,550, holding that, except as to the son's statute of limitations defense, there was no merit to the son's appeal or the estate's cross-appeal. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the county court correctly exercised jurisdiction over this proceeding; (2) there was no merit to the estate's cross-appeal; (3) except as to the defense of the statute of limitations, the son's appeal lacked merit; and (4) upon this Court's de novo review, the statute of limitations barred the estate's recovery for transactions that occurred before February 1, 2012. View "In re Estate of Adelung" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's claims for defamation and retaliation, holding that the district court did not err in instructing the jury and in applying Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-840.01 and directing a verdict in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's defamation claim. After Plaintiff's employment with Defendant was terminated Plaintiff filed a claim of retaliation under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1101 to -1126, and defamation. The district court granted a directed verdict for Defendant on the defamation claim, and a jury found Plaintiff failed to prove his retaliation claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not commit prejudicial error in (1) giving a jury instruction for retaliation that required Plaintiff to have opposed or refused to carry out a practice of Defendant that was unlawful; (2) giving a jury instruction on the business judgment rule; and (3) granting Defendant a directed verdict on the defamation claim. View "Haffke v. Signal 88, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a federal regulation does not impose a duty on insurers to issue policies that satisfy a motor carrier's minimum level of financial responsibility because compliance with the financial responsibility requirements under Neb. Rev. Stat. 75-363 and the pertinent federal regulations is the duty of the motor carrier and not its insurer. Through Neb. Rev. Stat. 75-363 the Nebraska Legislature adopted several parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and made those regulations applicable to certain intrastate motor carriers otherwise not subject to the federal regulations. One of the federal regulations adopted by section 75-363(3)(d) sets out minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether 49 C.F.R. 387 imposes a duty on an insurer to issue a policy with liability limits that satisfy the motor carrier's financial responsibility. The Supreme Court held that compliance with section 75-363 and section 387 is the responsibility of the motor carrier, not on the insurer. View "Shelter Insurance Co. v. Gomez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's plea-based convictions of conspiracy to distribute or deliver a controlled substance (hydrocodone), conspiracy to distribute or deliver a controlled substance (tramadol), and child abuse, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in accepting Defendant's guilty pleas because the information expressly alleged overt acts in furtherance of the charged conspiracy to distribute and deliver hydrocodone and tramadol, and the factual basis was sufficient to satisfy Wharton's Rule and support Defendant's guilty pleas; (2) Defendant's assignment of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel's failure to properly inform her of Wharton's Rule was without merit; and (3) the record was insufficient to reach Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance due to her trial counsel's alleged conflict of interest. View "State v. Theisen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court modified the opinion of the court of appeals to direct the dismissal of Plaintiff's amended petition to a limited extent, holding that there was no basis for directing Plaintiff's entire petition to be dismissed. Plaintiff was injured in an acceding arising out of and in the course of his employment. Plaintiff later filed a petition seeking reimbursement for continuing medical treatment related to the work accident, alleging that he had injured his head, neck and lower back and required treatment for depression and anxiety. The compensation court concluded that Plaintiff was entitled to reimbursement for treatment of his lower back, as well as depression and anxiety, but that Plaintiff was not entitled to reimbursement for medical treatment related to head and neck injuries. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with directions to dismiss the petition, concluding that the evidence was insufficient to establish that Plaintiff's depression and anxiety developed as a result of his low back condition. The Supreme Court modified the court of appeals' opinion, concluding that the petition should be dismissed only to the extent it sought reimbursement for treatment for depression, anxiety, and head and neck injuries. View "Frans v. Waldinger Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the county court requiring Webster County to pay fees and expenses to a court-appointed successor personal representative, holding that the court lacked the authority to order the County to pay the successor personal representative fees. In its order, the court found that the court-appointed successor personal representative had served for two and one-half years, that his fees were fair and reasonable, that the estate was insolvent, and that the amount owed by the heirs was likely uncollectible. The court then ordered that Webster County pay the amount of $6,455 to the personal representative. The Supreme Court vacated the order, holding that the court lacked the statutory authority to order the County pay the successor personal representative's fees. View "In re Estate of Hutton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of BNSF Railway Co. on Plaintiff's negligence action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. 51 et seq., holding that the exclusion of some of Plaintiff's evidence did not unfairly prejudice Plaintiff. While working for BNSF, Plaintiff was injured when a forklift she was driving tipped over. The jury returned a verdict for BNSF on Plaintiff's negligence action. The district court accepted the verdict and entered judgment. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred when it excluded evidence of BNSF's admission that the forklift was overloaded and at risk for tipping. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's exclusion of testimonial evidence of BNSF's designee related to the company's post accident investigation did not unfairly prejudice Plaintiff's substantial right. View "Walker v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court determining that Landowners were entitled to receive an amount equal to the diminution in value of private property as a result of a county's action in felling trees on the property to improve visibility for a nearby road. Franklin County, without permission, cut down and uprooted trees on property owned by Thomas and Pamela Russell. The Russells filed an inverse condemnation proceeding. At issue before the district court was the extent of the damages sustained. The district court granted summary judgment for the County, concluding that the Russells were entitled to receive the fair market value of the property taken and any decrease in the fair market value of remaining property caused by the taking. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Russells were entitled to recover the diminution in value of their land as a result of the removal of the trees. View "Russell v. Franklin County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for possession of a controlled substance, holding that the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant's motion to suppress. In his motion to suppress, Defendant asserted that he was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment because the police didn't to have reasonable suspicion to detain and question him and that the search of his personal effects was unconstitutional because the circumstances did not justify a warrantless search. The trial court determined that reasonable suspicion supported a lawful detention for an investigatory stop and that probable cause existed to justify the search. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the detention of Defendant was an investigatory stop justified by reasonable suspicion; and (2) the search of Defendant's personal effects was undertaken with consent. View "State v. Saitta" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for first-degree sexual assault, holding that the trial court did not err in admitting the English translation of Defendant's Spanish out-of-court statements as nonhearsay. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred when it admitted Luz Aguirre's Spanish-to-English translations of Defendant's out-of-court statements as a language conduit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) where the translator of a defendant's out-of-court verbal or written statements from a foreign language to English is shown to be qualified to perform such translation, and where the translator testifies at trial and is subject to cross-examination, the translation is admissible as non hearsay under Neb. R. Evid. 801(4); (2) the district court did not err in admitting the nonhearsay evidence; and (3) there was no merit to Defendant's remaining claims. View "State v. Martinez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law