Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this legal malpractice action as time barred, holding that the court did not err in ruling that the continuing representation exception to the two-year statute of limitations in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-222 did not apply and granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Defendants setting forth claims of professional negligence relating to Defendants' representation of Plaintiffs in a personal injury action. The district court dismissed the action with prejudice, concluding that the continuous representation doctrine did not toll the accrual of the action and that the action was time barred because Plaintiffs filed their claim more than one year after discovery of the alleged negligent act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it dismissed the complaint as untimely. View "Dondlinger v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Defendants breached two operating agreements, ordering an accounting for each, declining to dissolve either, and awarding Plaintiff damages, holding that there was no merit to the assignments of error on appeal. Plaintiff, the personal representative of the estate of Mark Benjamin, filed separate complaints against Douglas Bierman (Doug) and Sixth Street Rentals, LLC (collectively, Rentals) and against Doug, Eugene Bierman, and Sixth Street Development, LLC (collectively, Development) generally seeking an accounting to dissolve both Rentals and Development and damages. After the district court entered judgment, Plaintiff appealed and Defendants cross appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Brenda lacked standing to seek dissolution; (2) Defendants' assignments of error regarding fair market value were without merit; (3) there was no merit to Defendants' assignments of error related to breach of contract and specific performance; and (4) there was no merit to Defendants' remaining assignments of error. View "Benjamin v. Bierman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts
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In this workers' compensation case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Employee's motion for attorney fees for his counsel's appellate work, holding that the affidavit submitted by Employee's attorney sufficiently justified under Neb. Ct. R. App. P. 2-109(F) reasonable attorney fees to which Employee had a statutory right. Employee was awarded permanent total disability benefits. Employer appealed the award to the court of appeals, which affirmed the award in all respects. Employee then filed a motion for an award of reasonable attorney fees under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-125(4)(b) for the reason that Employer appealed the trial court's decision and there was no reduction in the amount of the award on appeal. Attached to the motion was the affidavit of Employee's counsel who worked on the appeal. The court of appeals denied the motion on the ground that the affidavit did not provide sufficient information to justify the reasonableness of the attorney fees sought. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the affidavit contained sufficient justification of the extent and value of the appellate attorney services to make a meaningful determination of the amount of "reasonable" attorney fees to which Employee was entitled. View "Sellers v. Reefer Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, Doug Bierman and Jim Hoppenstedt, on the issue of the enforceability of a buy-sell agreement, holding that the buy-sell agreement was clearly ambiguous. Mark Benjamin, Doug, and Jim entered into a buy-sell agreement providing for the sale and purchase of BD Construction, Inc. shares. After Mark died, Brenda Benjamin was appointed to serve as president of BD. One year later, Brenda terminated Plaintiffs' employment. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against Brenda and BD, seeking, among other things, specific performance of the buy-sell agreement. Prior to trial, Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a finding that the buy-sell agreement was enforceable. The district court granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs on that issue. The Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment, holding that the district court's determination that the buy-sell agreement was unambiguous was plain error. View "Bierman v. Benjamin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), fourth offense, holding that there was no plain error in how either the trial court of the court of appeals addressed Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6,108(1). On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court plainly erred by failing to address the provisions of section 60-6,108,(1), which provides that Nebraska's DUI statutes "shall apply upon highways and anywhere through the state except private property which is not open to public access." The court of appeals affirmed, finding no plain error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the exception set out in section 60-6,108(1) is not a material element of the crime of DUI such that the State must always disprove the exception in order to prove the crime of DUI. View "State v. Grutell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence following his plea of no contest to attempted first degree sexual assault, holding that Defendant's sentence was not excessive and that this Court will not consider Defendant's assignment of error alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sentence and that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant; and (2) because Defendant did not specifically allege deficient performance of counsel as required by State v. Mrza, 926 N.W.2d 79 (Neb. 2019), this Court will not consider his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "State v. Archie" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of first degree murder and other crimes, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motions to suppress. Before trial, Defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained from searches of cell phone records and his residence. The first motion to suppress was based on cell phone records obtained pursuant to a provision within the federal Stored Communications Act (Act), which has since been held to be unconstitutional. As to the second motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the warrant violated the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied the motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the seizure of Defendant's cell phone records under a provision within the Act was a violation of Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, but the exclusion of the evidence was subject to the good faith exception; and (2) a majority of the provisions in the residential search warrant met the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment, and if certain items were seized pursuant to invalid portions of the warrant, their admission was harmless error. View "State v. Jennings" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court determining that records related to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services's (DCS) efforts to acquire lethal injection drugs were subject to disclosure, holding that Appellant's assignments of error were without merit. On appeal, Appellant, director of the DCS, argued that the records sought were not public records as defined by Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-712.091 and that the district court erred in determining that he failed to prove that the records should not be disclosed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the relators in this case had standing, and the district court had jurisdiction; (2) the district court did not err in concluding that the documents were subject to public records statutes; and (3) the district court did not err in concluding that Appellant failed to prove by clear and conclusive evidence that an exemption applied. View "State ex rel. BH Media Group v. Frakes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for the misdemeanor offense of obstructing a peace officer, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court did not err in affirming the judgment of the county court because the county court did not err in overruling Defendant's motions for directed verdict where there was sufficient evidence to prove the material elements of the crime. As to Defendant's remaining assignments of error, the Court held (1) because the bill of exceptions in this case did not contain the suppression hearing, this Court will not consider Defendant's argument challenging the overruling of his motion to suppress; and (2) Defendant did not trigger appellate review of the trial court's decision denying his motion in limine. View "State v. Ferrin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's medical malpractice action on statute of limitations grounds, holding that because the face of the complaint showed that the action was barred by the statute of limitations the district court properly granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that Defendant waived the statute of limitations defense and that, even if he did not, dismissal on statute of limitations grounds was not proper. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no basis to find that Defendant waived the statute of limitations defense; and (2) the face of the complaint showed that the action was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Bonness v. Armitage" on Justia Law