Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Millard Gutter Company’s voluntary dismissal of its civil action against American Family Insurance Company had no effect on the district court’s authority to make further rulings, but the court erred in taxing technology expenses and jury expenses as costs. After Millard Gutter filed a voluntary dismissal without prejudice, the district court entered a judgment of dismissal and taxed costs to Millard Gutter, including expenses incurred by American Family in setting up courtroom technology and expenses incurred by the court in compensation prospective jurors. On appeal, Millard Gutter argued that once it filed a voluntary dismissal, the district court lacked authority to make any further rulings and, alternatively, that the district court erred in taxing technology expenses and jury expenses as costs. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and in part reversed, holding (1) because Millard Gutter had no statutory right to voluntary dismissal at the time it filed its dismissal, the district court’s authority to make further rulings was unaffected by that filing; and (2) the district court abused its discretion in taxing such expenses as costs. View "Millard Gutter Co. v. American Family Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this appeal from a default judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision denying Appellant’s motion for reconsideration or, in the alternative, to set aside the default judgment on the basis of several defenses. Appellee filed a breach of contract action against Appellant. When Appellant did not file a responsive pleading, the district court granted Appellee’s motion for default judgment. Appellant filed a motion for reconsideration or, in the alternative, to set aside the default judgment. In support of the motion to set aside, Appellant alleged several defenses, including lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. The district court overruled Appellant’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Appellant made a showing sufficient to warrant setting aside the default judgment because Appellant made prompt application to set aside the default and demonstrated at least one meritorious defense in support of its motion. View "Applied Underwriters Captive Risk Assurance Co., Inc. v. Oceanside Laundry, LLC" 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 dismissed Appellant’s appeal from an order dismissing his amended complaint alleging that the conditions at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP) violate his rights under Nebraska law and that his claims are representative of all inmates housed in the segregation units at the NSP, holding that this matter was moot. Appellant sued the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS), its director, and other officials and employees of the DCS, asserting that prison officials violate his rights when they place another prisoner in his “medically designed one-man segregation single-cell,” which disturbs his circadian rhythm. The district court dismissed the amended complaint for failing to state a cause of action. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal, holding that because Appellant no longer resided at the NSP, this matter was moot. View "Nesbitt v. Frakes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction Appellant’s appeal from the denial of the portion of his complaint and associated motion asking the district court to declare void a dissolution decree that it had issued more than a year previously. Appellant filed a “complaint” under the same case number as the dissolution decree asserting that the decree was void by virtue of a motion to dismiss he filed prior to the entry of the decree. However, Appellant’s notice of appeal was from an April 4 order denying his requests for various temporary orders and retaining for decision his application to modify the custody provisions of the decree. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that it had no jurisdiction over the appeal because the April 4 ruling was not a final order. View "Tilson v. Tilson" on Justia Law

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At issue in this custody action was whether the district court’s consent to adoption or the court’s stay of the custody action pending the resolution of the adoption petition presented a final order. Plaintiff, the former partner of the biological mother of the child in this case, brought this custody action, alleging that she had loco parentis status to the child. Approximately one month after Plaintiff’s custody action was filed. Defendant, the biological mother, and her wife then filed a petition in county court for stepparent adoption. The district court consented to the adoption and state the custody action pending the resolution of the adoption petition. Plaintiff appealed the order consenting to the adoption proceeding. The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal, holding that neither that order granting consent to adoption nor the order staying the custody proceedings pending further order of the court presented a final, appealable order. View "Jennifer T. v. Lindsay P." on Justia Law

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At issue in this action against Tenant, which abandoned leased property and then surrendered the property, was whether the district court correctly awarded damages to the date Landlord, which elected to sell the property, reached a tentative agreement to sell the property rather than to an actual sale date. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s damages award, holding that, although Landlord did not elect to accept Tenant’s abandonment and terminate the lease, the duration of finalizing the sale was not reasonable. The court, however, reversed the district court’s dismissal of Tenant’s out-of-state guarantor for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the guaranty established sufficient connections to Nebraska. View "Hand Cut Steaks Acquisitions, Inc. v. Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon of Nebraska, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the district court’s order dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff, an attorney, filed a complaint for breach of contract against Defendant. The trial court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend. Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint including claims for tortious conversion and a violation of Nebraska’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, holding (1) neither general nor specific personal jurisdiction over Defendant existed; but (2) the district court erred in dismissing the complaint with prejudice. The court modified the district court’s order to a dismissal without prejudice. View "Nimmer v. Giga Entertainment Media, Inc." on Justia Law

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While dating April, Johnson made threats concerning April’s relationship with her former husband Edward. The night before April’s death, Johnson was upset that Edward had repaired April’s van. April’s neighbors reported hearing loud arguing in the early morning hours of December 11, 2011. On December 12, April did not report to work. Officers found April’s body. A pathologist opined that her death was a homicide caused by a stab wound to her abdomen and suffocation, On December 15, Johnson was arrested in Michigan driving April’s van, which contained Johnson’s blood-stained T-shirt and shoes. The DNA matched April’s profile. Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. On appeal, Johnson unsuccessfully claimed that the court erred by admitting cumulative, gruesome autopsy photographs; brought a Batson challenge; and challenged testimony and exhibits about Johnson’s DNA profile. Johnson’s motion for post-conviction relief alleged ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to move for discharge on the basis of speedy trial, failing to object to the prosecutor’s voir dire comments, failing to properly examine various witnesses, failing to argue after moving for a directed verdict, failing to object to the state’s closing argument, failing to sever one count, and failing to allow Johnson to testify. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. Johnson failed to allege sufficient facts to demonstrate violation of his constitutional rights. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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An insured obtained life insurance policies and named her trust as the owner. Her insurance agent stole the renewal premiums. The policies lapsed. The insured and the trust’s beneficiaries sued the trustee; the trustee brought a third-party claim against the agent. The court bifurcated the trial. Pursuant to a jury verdict on the first stage, the court entered an order against the trustee. Before trial on the third-party claim, the court certified its order as final. The Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the certification under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902 was an abuse of discretion. The court expressed concern with the propriety of the court’s determination that there was no just reason for delay. The intent behind the statute was to prevent interlocutory appeals, not to make them easier. The court should ordinarily make specific findings setting forth the reasons for its order. Here, the court’s order merely used the language of the statute and did not explain why certification was appropriate. The court noted the interrelationship of the claims and that a delay of three-four months before the third-party complaint would be ready for trial would not likely cause an unusual hardship. View "Rafert v. Meyer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure