Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court overruled the State's exceptions to the district court's dismissal of charges filed against Deborah Archer and Cory Russell, holding that there was no error in the district court's dismissal of the informations against Archer and Russell.Archer and Russell were charged with crimes involving their sale of products continuing cannabidiol, also known as CBD. After a hearing during which evidence was presented that the pharmacological effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and CBD were not similar, the district court dismissed without prejudice the charges for failure of sufficient probable cause. The State filed an application taking exception to the district court's dismissals. The Supreme Court overruled the exceptions, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the charges. View "State v. Archer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the district court dismissing Appellants' automobile negligence actions after the court determined that they were barred by the parental immunity doctrine, holding that the automobile negligence claims alleged in these cases fell outside the scope of Nebraska's parental immunity doctrine.Mother was driving a car with her minor children when the vehicle left the roadway and rolled several times. Mother and her daughter died from injuries sustained in the accident, and her son was seriously injured. The daughter's estate filed a wrongful death and survival action against Mother's estate, and the son filed a separate negligence action against Mother's estate. Both actions alleged that Mother's negligent operation of the vehicle caused the accident. The district court granted summary judgment for Mother's estate, concluding that the doctrine of parental immunity applied to bar the negligence claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the negligence actions were not barred by the doctrine of parental immunity. View "Nolasco v. Malcom" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court that modified the decree dissolving Jayson Tilson's marriage, holding that there was no merit to Jayson's claims on appeal.In 2015, the court entered a decree of dissolution ordering the continuation of the maternal grandmother's legal and physical custody as to Jayson's three minor children. In 2017, Jayson filed a complaint requesting that the decree be vacated as void and that, in the alternative, the decree be modified to place custody of the children with him. The district court rejected Jayson's argument that the original decree was void, ordered that custody should remain with the grandmother, but modified the decree as to parenting time and child support. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error on the part of the district court. View "Tilson v. Tilson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
by
The Supreme Court vacated the orders of the district court granting Defendant a new trial and absolute discharge, holding that the orders were void because the district court did not comply with the Supreme Court's mandate in an earlier appeal.In 2000, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Several unsuccessful motions and appeals followed, in which Defendant collaterally attacked his convictions and sentences. In 2017, the Supreme Court remanded for further proceedings in an appeal involving collateral attacks. On remand, the district court granted Defendant's motion for new trial and, later, his motion for absolute discharge on speedy trial grounds. The Supreme Court vacated those orders, holding that the district court did not comply with this Court's mandate in an earlier appeal. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of the State and dismissing Plaintiff's claims, including a violation of the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act (NWPCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1228 to 48-1234, and denying Plaintiff's motion for class certification as moot, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff, an employee of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), sought to bring an action on behalf of himself and other DHHS employees against the State, alleging that DHHS's refusal to pay him for leave hours during pay periods in which he also worked his full complement of hours violated the NWPCA and other state laws. The district court sustained the State's motion for summary judgment and overruled Plaintiff's motion for class certification as moot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. View "Lassalle v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing First State Bank Nebraska's (First State) claims against MP Nexlevel, LLC seeking performance under a contract, holding that the district court erred in granting MP Nexlevel summary judgment and dismissing First State's complaint.MP Nexlevel contracted to pay Husker Underground Utilities & Construction, LLC for construction services. Due to separate loan agreements, First State held a security interest in Husker Underground's accounts. When Husker Underground failed to meet its loan obligations, First State sought direct payment of MP Nexlevel's obligations under the contract. However, MP Nexlevel continued to submit its payments to Husker Underground. First State ultimately brought suit against MP Nexlevel for performance under the contract. The district court concluded that First State lacked standing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Neb. Rev. Stat. 9-406(a) imposed a duty on MP Nexlevel to discharge its obligations under its agreement with Husker Underground by paying directly to First State; (2) MP Nexlevel breached its obligations to First State; and (3) First State was authorized by Neb. Rev. Stat. 9-607(a)(3) to step into Husker Underground's place and enforce MP Nexlevel's contractual obligations as adjusted by operation of section 9-406(a). View "First State Bank Nebraska v. MP Nexlevel, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the order of the district court reversing and vacating the order of the Nebraska State Racing Commission directing Neb. Rev. Stat. 2-1207(2) funds collected by the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, Inc. (HBPA) from Nebraska horse racing tracks be transferred to the Nebraska Thoroughbred Breeders Association (NTBA), holding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over this matter.At issue was money accumulated from deductions of horse racing wagers under section 2-1207(2) and 2-1207.01 for the support, promotion, and preservation of agriculture and horse breeding in the state. The Commission granted NTBA's request to order the HBPA to pay all NTBA accumulated funds in the HBPA's possession to the NTBA Omaha Exposition and Racing, Inc. (OER) submitted a petition for judicial review. The district court reversed and vacated the Commission's order, concluding that the Commission erred by appointing NTBA as custodian and granting NTBA the authority collect and determine distribution of the deducted funds. The Supreme Court vacated the district court's order and dismissed this appeal, holding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction due to OER's failure to sufficiently serve NTBA and the Commission. View "Omaha Exposition & Racing, Inc. v. Nebraska State Gaming Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting a money judgment for Landlord after Tenant breached its leases on two commercial properties, holding that there was no merit in Tenant's arguments on appeal.After a trial, the jury returned a special verdict in Landlord's favor, finding that Landlord met its burden of proving that Tenant breached the lease agreement, causing Landlord damages of $1,657,800 for unpaid rent and late fees and for unpaid taxes. The court entered judgment on the verdict and further awarded prejudgment interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Landlord had standing in this action and was not required to produce the actual assignment of the leases; (2) there was no error in the award of prejudgment interests or in the special verdicts awarding late fees; and (3) the court had inherent authority to award Landlord its actual expenses as a condition of sustaining Tenant's motion for continuance of trial. View "AVG Partners I, LLC v. Genesis Health Clubs of Midwest, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Appellant's personal injury suit, albeit under different grounds for immunity than those relied upon by the district court, holding that the State had immunity from suit under the intentional tort exception.Terry Berry was fatally strangled by another prison inmate. Appellant, the personal representative of Berry's estate, filed this suit against the State alleging negligence and wrongful death on the part of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Berry's death was negligently caused by the State's violation of its duties and its formal regulations. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,219(4) barred Plaintiff's claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State had immunity under the intentional tort exception to the STCA, as set forth in section 81-8,219(4). View "Moser v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court awarding custody of a child to an individual standing in loco parentis and, in this opinion, refined the standard for an exceptional case where a child's best interests can negate the parental preference principle.Father was awarded physical custody of Child. Mother later filed a complaint to modify child custody seeking to be awarded sole physical custody. After being allowed to intervene, Jo filed a complaint alleging that she was Child's primary caretaker and that she stood in loco parentis over Child. After a trial, the court placed legal and physical custody with Jo. Mother appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion by awarding custody to Jo rather than to Mother. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, holding (1) when a fit parent has not forfeited her or his superior right to custody, the best interests of the child will negate the parental preference principle only in an exceptional case; and (2) an exceptional case requires proof of serious physical or psychological harm or a substantial likelihood of such harm. View "State ex rel. Tina K. v. Adam B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law