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At issue was the tax exempt status of land purchased by the Upper Republican Natural Resources District (NRD) as part of a ground water integrated management plan. The NRD retired irrigated acres and converted them to grassland to achieve soil conservation and range management objectives and then leased much of the grassland for grazing. The parties here disputed, among other things, the extent to which the lease was at fair market value for a public purpose under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-202(1)(a) and the scope of the questions properly before the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC). The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of TERC that certain unimproved parcels of property, portions of two improved parcels, and contiguous parcels were used for a public purpose and therefore exempt and vacated those parts of the TERC’s opinion addressing issues other than whether the property was used for a public purpose. View "Upper Republican Natural Resources District v. Dundy County Board of Equalization" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the arbitration board finding that a discount to wholesale customers who renewed their contractual relationship with Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) was not discriminatory or an abuse of NPPD’s statutory rate-setting authority. Appellants were political subdivisions engaged in the distribution of electricity to retail electric customers and were wholesale customers of NPPD. Appellants brought this complaint after they elected not to renew their contractual relationship, alleging that the discount was discriminatory and that NPPD breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by charging them a different rate. The arbitration board determined that the discount was reasonable and nondiscriminatory and that NPPD did not breach the contract or the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that NPPD’s rate structure was fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory and that the rate structure did not constitute a breach of contract or the implied covenant of good faith. View "In re Application of Northeast Nebraska Public Power District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s declaration that the arbitration agreement at issue in this case was void and unenforceable on state law grounds and for being contrary to public policy, holding that the court erred in both respects. Plaintiff sued Defendants, a nursing home and its employees, for injuries he sustained as a resident at the nursing home. Defendants filed motions to compel arbitration pursuant to an arbitration cause within the admission agreement Plaintiff had signed upon being admitted as a resident in the nursing home. The district court overruled the motions, concluding that the arbitration clause (1) lacked mutuality of obligation by the parties, (2) was unenforceable for failure to strictly conform to the requirements of Nebraska’s Uniform Arbitration Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2601 et seq., and (3) was void and unenforceable as contrary to public policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitration agreement was valid and enforceable and governed by the Federal Arbitration Act. View "Heineman v. Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the State’s appeal from the district court’s order disestablishing paternity of one child and taking no action on other claims in this proceeding initiated by the State to establish support for two children based upon notarized acknowledgments of paternity. The pleadings in this case framed multiple claims. After the district court entered its order, the State purported to appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1315, which governs multiple parties and multiple claims, dictates that the order was not final or appealable. View "State ex rel. Marcelo K. v. Ricky K." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme court vacated the district court’s order granting grandparent visitation to Frederick and Ann Heiden and remanded with directions to dismiss, holding that the Heidens were not grandparents of the children at issue for purposes of the grandparent visitation statutes, Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1801 to 43-1803. After noting that the plain language of the statutes provides that a grandparent is defined as the biological or adoptive parent of a minor child’s biological or adoptive parent, the Supreme Court held that the Heidens were not entitled to an order of visitation under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1801 to 43-183 because the Heidens failed to show that they were Mother’s biological or adoptive parents. View "Heiden v. Norris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for operating a motor vehicle during a time of suspension, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant was sentenced to a combined twenty-two to twenty-two months’ imprisonment with periods of postrelease supervision. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences as modified, holding (1) Defendant was not entitled to relief on her claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) the district court improperly imposed an indeterminate sentence where the applicable statutes for the convictions on three of the counts require determinate sentences. View "State v. Vanness" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court vacating Defendant’s conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) and granting him a new trial on the grounds that his warrantless blood draw was unlawful and inadmissible in light of Birchfield v. North Dakota, __ U.S. _ (2016). After Defendant’s issues on appeal to the district court had been briefed, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Birchfield. Based on Birchfield, the district court reversed the conviction and remanded the matter for a new trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred by vacating Defendant’s DUI conviction without considering whether his blood draw was voluntary or whether the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied; and (2) the good faith exception applied to the pre-Birchfield warrantless blood draw in this case, and therefore, the district court erred in reversing Defendant’s conviction and vacating his sentence. View "State v. Hatfield" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ amended complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim because amendment to state a claim was plausible. Plaintiffs, the next-door neighbors of a rental house at which a natural gas explosion occurred, injuring Plaintiffs, sued the rental house’s landowner and property manager based upon a negligence theory. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ amended complaint with prejudice less than five months after the action commenced, without providing a post response opportunity to amend and based upon a no-duty-owed conclusion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that that the district court erred in finding that amendment of the complaint would have been futile and thus erred in dismissing the complaint with prejudice. The court remanded the cause with direction to grant the neighbors leave to amend their complaint. View "Eadie v. Leise Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s partial granting of Defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and modified the jury award in this case alleging legal malpractice and fraudulent misrepresentation. Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Steven Howard and his law firm alleging that Howard committed legal malpractice. The jury found in favor of Plaintiffs and awarded damages in the amount of $775,000. After trial, the district court partially granted Defendants’ JNOV motion, reducing the damages to $235,968.78. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) the trial court did not err in reducing the jury’s award of damages, but the jury award is modified to $350,000; (2) the trial court did not err in overruling Plaintiffs’ postverdict motion for sanctions; and (3) the trial court did not err in failing to dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint for want of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis that the action was not brought by the real party in interest. View "LeRette v. Howard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence of seventy years to life imprisonment imposed for a murder he committed at the age of fourteen. Defendant pled guilty to second degree murder. In 1988, the district court imposed a sentence of life imprisonment for the murder conviction. In 2013, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to the decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). The district court vacated Defendant’s sentence. At the time of resentencing, Defendant was forty-four years old. The district court sentenced Defendant to seventy years’ to life imprisonment for first degree murder. Defendant’s primary complaint on appeal was that his sentence was excessive. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the sentence was not excessive, did not amount to a de facto life sentence, and was not disproportionate to the offense. Defendant’s remaining claims of error were similarly unavailing. View "State v. Thieszen" on Justia Law