Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
City of Omaha v. Professional Firefighters Ass’n
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court confirming an arbitration award ordering the reinstatement of Steve LeClair to his position as a firefighter with the City of Omaha, holding that the district court did not err in refusing to vacate the arbitrator's decision.After LeClair was charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct the City discharged him from employment. LeClair invoked his right under the collective bargaining agreement between the City and the union to challenge his discharge in arbitration. The arbitrator concluded that the City did not have just cause to terminate LeClair's employment and ordered his reinstatement with backpay. The City filed a motion to vacate the arbitration decision. The district confirmed the arbitration award and ordered the City to pay the union's attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court erred in awarding attorney fees and costs because the City's motion to vacate was not frivolous; and (2) the district court's order in all other respects was without error. View "City of Omaha v. Professional Firefighters Ass'n" on Justia Law
Cinatl v. Prososki
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court confirming an arbitrator's award, holding that the court properly affirmed the award.Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant seeking rescission of a contract of purchase and sale of dental practice and lease, alleging that fraudulent misrepresentations were made and that he relied upon them to his detriment. Because the contract contained an arbitration provision the district court sustained Defendant's motion to compel arbitration. The arbitrator concluded that Plaintiff ratified the contract through his conduct and waived any cause of action he might have had arising from his purchase of the dental practice. Plaintiff filed an application to vacate the arbitrator's award. The district court denied the motion. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to confirm the award, which the district court granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court had jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff's challenge to the denial of his application to vacate, but his challenge lacked merit; and (2) the district court did not err in confirming the arbitration award. View "Cinatl v. Prososki" on Justia Law
Seldin v. Estate of Silverman
The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the district court's confirmation of an arbitration award of almost $3 million under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and awarding attorney fees as a sanction under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-824, holding that no grounds existed for vacating or modifying the award, and therefore, the parties were bound by their agreement to arbitrate and the arbitrator's construction of that agreement.The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's confirmation of the arbitration award and the denial of Appellants' motions to vacate and/or modify the award, holding (1) the district court did not err in confirming the arbitration award and denying the motions to vacate and/or modify the award; (2) the district court did not err by denying a motion to supplement the record; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees; and (4) the court did not err in awarding sanctions. View "Seldin v. Estate of Silverman" on Justia Law
Posted in: Arbitration & Mediation
Garlock v. 3DS Properties, LLC
In this lawsuit filed by the purchasers of a home against the sellers the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court vacating an arbitration award entered in favor of Sellers and remanded with directions to confirm the arbitration award, holding that the district court erred by finding that arbitration provision in the purchase agreement was unenforceable, vacating the award, and failing to confirm the award.In this action, Purchasers alleged that several defects in the home they purchased had been concealed by Sellers. An arbitrator issued an award in favor of Sellers, finding that no credible evidence supported any of Purchasers' claims. Purchasers filed an application to vacate the arbitration award, and Sellers filed a motion seeking judicial confirmation of the award. The district court entered an order finding the arbitration void and vacating the award, holding that the arbitration provision in the purchase agreement was unenforceable under Nebraska's Uniform Arbitration Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court should have confirmed the arbitration award pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2612. View "Garlock v. 3DS Properties, LLC" on Justia Law
Ronald J. Palagi, P.C. v. Prospect Funding Holdings
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting Prospect Funding Holdings, LLC's (Prospect) motions to confirm arbitration awards and for summary judgment in this interpleader action, holding that when Prospect moved to confirm the arbitration awards under section 9 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 through 16, the district court was required by the FAA to do so.After selling an interest in her personal injury claim to Prospect, Edrie Wheat settled her claim. When a dispute arose over the amount due Prospect, Prospect initiated arbitration proceedings against Wheat and Ronald J. Palagi, P.C., LLC (Palagi), the law firm representing Wheat. Awards were eventually entered against Wheat and Palagi in favor of Prospect. Wheat and Palagi then brought this interpleader action but did not seek to vacate, modify, or correct the arbitration awards. The district court granted Prospect's motion to confirm the arbitration awards and also granted Prospect's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) summary judgment was not premature; and (2) the district court did not err in failing to find the agreement was invalid and unenforceable. View "Ronald J. Palagi, P.C. v. Prospect Funding Holdings" on Justia Law
In re Application of Northeast Nebraska Public Power District
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
Cullinane v. Beverly Enterprises – Nebraska, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Appellant’s motion to dismiss or stay proceedings and compel arbitration, holding that the issue of whether the arbitration agreement in this case was enforceable was properly decided by the district court and not an arbitrator.Thomas Cullinane, as special administrator for the estate of his mother, Helen Cullinane, filed a wrongful death action against Appellant, Beverly Enterprises - Nebraska, Inc., doing business as Golden LivingCenter - Valhaven (GLCV). GLCV filed a motion to dismiss or stay proceedings and compel arbitration in accordance with the terms of a written arbitration agreement between GLCV and Helen. GLCV asserted that Eugene Cullinane, Helen’s husband, while acting as Helen’s attorney in fact, signed the agreement when he and Helen were admitted to the facility. The district court found that Eugene’s execution of the arbitration agreement could not be binding upon Helen, nor her estate, and thus dismissed GLCV’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the arbitration agreement was not binding upon Helen or her estate. View "Cullinane v. Beverly Enterprises - Nebraska, Inc." on Justia Law
Heineman v. Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society
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
Citizens of Humanity, LLC v. Applied Underwriters Captive Risk Assurance Co.
The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the district court granting Applied Underwriters Captive Risk Assurance Company, Inc.’s (AUCRA) motion to stay a court case filed by Citizens of Humanity, LLC and CM Laundry, LLC (collectively, Citizens) pending arbitration, including arbitration on the issue arbitrability.Underlying this litigation was a dispute in which AUCRA claimed that it was owed money from Citizens. Citizens filed a complaint against AUCRA in the district court. AUCRA filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to stay this action pending arbitration. The district court sustained the motion to stay this action pending arbitration. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2602.01(f)(4) invalidated the delegation provision in the parties’ agreement, which had the effect of referring the issue of arbitrability to the arbitrator and operated to reserve issues of arbitrability for the court to decide. The court remanded the cause for further proceedings, including the enforceability of the remainder of the arbitration provision. View "Citizens of Humanity, LLC v. Applied Underwriters Captive Risk Assurance Co." on Justia Law
Posted in: Arbitration & Mediation
Zweiback Family L.P. v. Lincoln Benefit Life Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration, although for different reasons than those of the district court.In denying the motion to compel arbitration, the district court concluded that the agreement to arbitrate concerned or related to an insurance policy and was thus unenforceable under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2602.01(f)(4). On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court erred in denying the motion to compel arbitration and in determining that arbitration agreement concerned or related to an insurance policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was a failure of proof regarding the arbitration itself because the record did not show that the relevant parties agreed to submit future disputes to binding arbitration. View "Zweiback Family L.P. v. Lincoln Benefit Life Co." on Justia Law