Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC), which reduced the county's $16.3 million valuation of commercial real estate used as an ethanol plant to $7.3 million based upon the taxpayer's appraisal, holding that there was no error appearing on the record. The original $16.3 million valuation in this case was based upon mass appraisal techniques. TERC reduced the value based upon the appraisal of the taxpayer, finding that because the appraiser performed the appraisal according to professional approved standards his appraisal report was competent evidence sufficient to rebut the presumption in favor of the Board of Equalization's determination affirming the county assessor's valuation of the property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that TERC's determination that the Board's valuation was unreasonable and arbitrary was supported by competent evidence and was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. View "Wheatland Industries v. Perkins County Board of Equalization" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court awarding temporary total disability and attorney fees to Suzy Fentress, holding that the compensation court did not err. Fentress received a workplace injury while working for Westin, Inc. The compensation court entered an award in which Fentress received temporary partial workers' compensation benefits. Westin later moved to terminate the temporary indemnity benefits and to determine maximum medical improvement (MMI) and permanency. After the compensation court held an evidentiary hearing to determine MMI Westin moved to withdraw its motion to determine MMI. The compensation court disallowed the withdrawal of the motion and, thereafter, awarded temporary total disability and attorney fees to Fentress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court did not err when it (1) overruled Westin's motion to withdraw its motion to determine MMI; (2) admitted certain evidence during the hearing; (3) found that Fentress had achieved MMI with respect to mental health issues but not physical health issues; and (4) awarded Fentress medical treatment, temporary total disability, and attorney fees. View "Fentress v. Westin, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Workers' Compensation Court ordering Jack's Supper Club and its workers' compensation carrier (collectively, JSC) to reimburse Sheryl Rogers for medical expenses she incurred, holding that where Rogers selected the physicians who provided the treatment at issue in disregard of provisions of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, JSC was not responsible to reimburse Rogers. Rogers injured her back while working for JSC. The compensation court approved a lump-sum settlement, and JSC remained responsible to pay Rogers for reasonable and necessary medical care for her work-related injury. After Rogers received treatment she asked that the compensation court order JSC to reimburse her. The JSC argued that it was not responsible for the medical expenses because Rogers failed to comply with Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-120(2), a statute governing selection of treating physicians. The compensation court rejected the JSC's arguments and ordered JSC to pay certain bills offered by Rogers. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the compensation court erred in ordering JSC to reimburse Rogers for her treatment and by issuing a decision that did not comply with Workers' Comp. Ct. R. of Proc. 11. View "Rogers v. Jack's Supper Club" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting the City of Kimball's motion to dismiss Appellant's complaint alleging that the City was negligent for failing to supervised its employee, holding that the claim was barred by the intentional torts exception to the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA). Appellant filed a complaint against the City seeking damages incurred after its then-employee, David Ford, allegedly attacked and choked Appellant in a city building. Appellant alleged that the City was negligent for failing to protect her and the general public when the City knew or should have known of Ford's past violent behavior, violent propensities, and prior assaults. The district court dismissed the case, concluding that Appellant's allegations were exempt from application of the PSTCA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's negligence claim arose out of a battery and, therefore, was barred by the intentional torts exception to the PSTCA. View "Rutledge v. City of Kimball" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the juvenile court placing Giavonni P. At the Lincoln Regional Center (LRC), holding that the juvenile court had the authority to place Giavonni at the LRC on a specific date or otherwise. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services appealed, arguing that the placement orders usurped the LRC's statutory authority to administer and manage its patient admission and discharge process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the order in this case was final; (2) this Court reaches the merits of these appeals under the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine; (3) the juvenile court had the authority to order this placement; and (4) while an adult facility was not the optimal choice for a juvenile offender, Giavonni's placement at the LRC was in his best interests at the time of his placement. View "In re Interest of Giavonni P." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of criminal conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, holding that the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress and that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining claims of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in declining to suppress evidence obtained during and derived from an electronic interception of Defendant's cellular telephone communications; (2) the district court correctly determined that the State's submission of an application to intercept Defendant's communications to the Attorney General two days prior to submitting it to the court did not violate the timing requirement of Neb. Rev. Stat. 86-291; and (3) the interception of Defendant's communications while he was outside the State of Nebraska was within the territorial jurisdiction of the court because the communications were redirected and first listened to at a Nebraska listening post. View "State v. Brye" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court in this action alleging breach of contract, conversion, and tortious interference with a business relationship of expectation, holding that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring the action in his own name. Kim Hawley, the only named plaintiff, brought this action against John Skradski alleging that he purchased a heating and air conditioning (HVAC) business from an entity affiliated with Skradski and that, after Hawley ceased operating the business, Skradski began operating the business and converted the business's assets to his use. During trial, an asset purchase agreement was received into evidence showing that the HVAC business was purchased by KNR Capital Corp. and not by Hawley individually. The district court granted Skradksi's motion for a directed verdict, finding that there was insufficient evidence of any of the three theories of recovery. The Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment and dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that Hawley failed to prove his standing to bring this suit in his own name, and therefore, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. View "Hawley v. Skradski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendants in two actions brought under Nebraska's Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 36-701 to 36-712, but reversed the court's grant of attorney fees as sanctions on the grounds that both actions were frivolous, holding that the fraudulent transfer actions lacked merit but that the district court abused its discretion in finding the actions as frivolous. The creditors here alleged that a blanket security agreement guaranteeing repayment of a loan by a wife to her husband was a fraudulent transfer under the UFTA. The district court concluded, after a trial, that there was no actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud any creditor under the UFTA and that the wife had proved good faith. The court then granted the wife attorney fees. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the award of sanctions, holding that the actions were not frivolous under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-824; and (2) affirmed the judgments of dismissal, holding that the creditors failed to identify and prove there was any "property" at issue in these cases and thus failed to prove that there was a "transfer" under the UFTA. View "Korth v. Luther" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of attempted possession of a burglar's tools and sentence of one year in jail with credit for twenty-three days served, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the sentence imposed. On appeal, Defendant argued that his sentence was excessive and that the district court erred by awarding him insufficient credit for time served against his jail sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by granting Defendant only twenty-three days of credit against his one-year jail sentence; and (2) where the record demonstrated that the court considered all of the relevant sentencing factors and clearly articulated its rationale for imposing the one-year jail sentence, there was no abuse of discretion in the sentence imposed. View "State v. Harms" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for four counts of first degree sexual assault, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not commit plain error when it admitted the DNA evidence that linked Defendant to the assaults; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it overruled Defendant's motion to remove counsel and appoint substitute counsel; and (3) regarding Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, either the record on direct appeal showed the claim was without merit or that the record was not sufficient to review the claim. View "State v. Weathers" on Justia Law