Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the juvenile court granting the State's complaint seeking to disestablish the paternity of Aaron S. to a child born during his marriage to the child's mother and to establish paternity in another man, holding that the State was not statutorily authorized to bring the action. After genetic testing showed that Ian K. was the child's biological father the State filed a complaint seeking to establish Ian's paternity. A trial was held, and at the conclusion of the evidence the State asked the court to disestablish Aaron, the husband of the child's mother, as the child's legal father and to establish Ian as the child's father so he could effectively relinquish his rights. The juvenile court entered an order which purported to disestablish Aaron as the child's biological father and to establish Ian's as the child's father. The Supreme Court vacated the order, holding that because the child was not born out of wedlock and was the legitimate child of Aaron, the State lacked statutory authority to bring this paternity action under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1411. View "State ex rel. Miah S. v. Ian K." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the juvenile court terminating the parental rights of Samantha H. to her minor child, Noah C., holding that the juvenile court did not err when it denied Samantha's motion to continue the termination and when it found that termination was in the best interests of Noah. After a termination hearing, the district court entered a written order finding that sufficient evidence was presented to demonstrate clearly and convincingly that termination of parental rights was appropriate under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-292(7) and in the best interests of Noah. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Samantha's motion for a continuance; and (2) it was shown by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Samantha's parental rights would be in Noah's best interests. View "In re Interest of Noah C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dissolving the marriage of Tammy Doerr and Brian Doerr, holding that the district court did not err in its division of the marital estate. On appeal, Brian challenged the district court's decision to award half of the proceeds from what he claimed was his separate property to Tammy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in awarding roughly half of the equity of the parties' home on Howard Street in Fremont to Tammy; (2) did not err in its division of the parties' bank accounts; (3) did not err by not equally dividing the marital debt comprising a credit card balance and a bill for preseparation renovations; and (4) did not err calculating the amount of the equalization payment. View "Doerr v. Doerr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for second degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony, holding that there was no abuse in the trial proceedings. Specifically, the Court held (1) any error in the admission of statements Defendant made during two interviews was harmless, and the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant's motion to suppress a letter to his sister; (2) the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant's motion to suppress evidence from the search of his cell phone; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it prohibited Defendant from presenting evidence regarding the victim’s mental health and use of alcohol and prescription drugs; (4) the district court did not err when it denied Defendant the right to cross-examine a witness on issues the court determined to lack probative value; and (5) the district court did not err when it allowed evidence that results of certain DNA tests were uninterpretable. View "State v. Said" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the Nebraska Worker's Compensation Court's awards for injuries suffered by Halina Picard in two separate accidents, holding that the court of appeals correctly found that the doctrine of apportionment did not apply but erred in affirming the award of benefits for Picard's 2015 accident and injury. In 2016, Picard filed claims against P & C Group 1, Inc. relating to industrial injuries she received in 2012 and 2015. The compensation court determined that Picard was entitled to an award for a whole body injury based on both injuries, that apportionment was not appropriate, and that Picard was entitled to attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed the awards for Picard's 2012 and 2015 injuries and reversed the attorney fees award. The Supreme Court reversed Picard's award of benefits for the 2015 injury, holding that the court of appeals (1) did not err in vacating Picard's attorney fees award; (2) did not err in finding that apportionment was inapplicable and determining that Picard's second injury award should not be apportioned with the first; and (3) erred in disregarding Picard's disability from the 2012 accident when assessing her lost earnings from the 2015 injury. View "Picard v. P & C Group 1, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Workers' Compensation Court (WCC) dismissing Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim against Ismael Huerta and LFA Inc. because Plaintiff failed to prove he was an employee of Huerta, holding that the WCC did not clearly err in its determination that Plaintiff was not an employee of Huerta. Plaintiff was working on a roofing job with Huerta when he slipped and fell from the roof. Plaintiff brought a claim against Huerta and LFA, claiming that Huerta was his employer and that Huerta and LFA conducted a scheme to avoid liability under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act. The WCC dismissed the action, finding that Plaintiff failed to carry his burden of demonstrating that he was Huerta's employee. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the WCC did not err in concluding that Plaintiff failed to prove his employee status. View "Aboytes-Mosqueda v. LFA Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and sentence of a term of incarceration not less than two years nor more than three years, holding that the convictions were supported by sufficient evidence and that there was no abuse of discretion in the sentence imposed. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in permitting the State to recall the victim's mother; (2) the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to dismiss; (3) there was sufficient evidence to find Defendant guilty of negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury; (4) there was sufficient evidence to find Defendant guilty of negligent child abuse; and (5) the district court did not impose an excessive sentence. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's request for attorney fees authorized but not mandated by statute, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding no fees or costs. Appellant sued Defendant under federal and state wiretapping statutes and under Neb. Rev. Stat. 20-203. The jury found that Appellant met his burden of proof as to both the federal and state wiretapping claims and awarded damages of $4,800. The trial court sustained Appellant's motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and to alter or amend based on the jury's award of damages, awarding statutory damages of $10,000. The district court denied attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) trial courts are not required to provide an explanation of an award of attorney fees; (2) while Defendant obtained a jury verdict in his favor, it was less than half of the minimum damages statutorily mandated, and therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding no attorney fees; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion by not awarding litigation costs. View "Brumbaugh v. Bendorf" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law
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In this contract and tort action brought by the buyers of a business pursuant to a written purchase agreement the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment for the sellers and dismissing the sellers' agents, holding that the trial court did not err or abuse its discretion. Buyers bought a business from Sellers pursuant to a written purchase agreement. Buyers later bought this action against Sellers and their agents. Sellers counterclaimed for amounts owing under promissory notes. The Supreme Court dismissed the agents under Neb. Ct. R. Pldg. 6-1112(b)(6) and entered summary judgment for Sellers on all claims and counterclaims. The court then denied Sellers' motion for attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) undisputed facts supported the summary judgments for Sellers; (2) the complaint stated no claim against the agent; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying attorney fees to Sellers. View "Nathan v. McDermott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts
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In this negligence action, the Supreme Court reversed the district court's judgment for NIFCO Mechanical Systems, Inc., holding that the comparative negligence instructions constituted plain error. After a pipe in the sprinkler system of the City of Wahoo's public library burst, Wahoo brought suit against Cheever Construction Company and NIFCO alleging that Cheever negligently installed the sprinkler system and that NIFCO negligently failed to inspect and maintain it. NIFCO asserted as an affirmative defense that Wahoo's negligence was a proximate cause of any damages. The claims against Cheever were dismissed by stipulation during the course of trial, and the case was submitted to the jury with NIFCO as the sole defendant. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of NIFCO. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court's comparative negligence jury instructions were plainly erroneous. View "City of Wahoo v. NIFCO Mechanical Systems, Inc." on Justia Law