Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from an order disapproving the parties' application for an order approving a lump-sum settlement on the grounds that the application was not in compliance with the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-101 et seq., holding that the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court's order of disapproval was not a final, appealable order. Plaintiff filed a petition seeking benefits for injuries she sustained while working for Employer. The parties eventually agreed to settle the dispute for a lump-sum payment of $150,000, along with the establishment of an interest-bearing account for additional medical payments. The parties filed a joint stipulation, but the stipulation did not include the amount of fees and costs. The compensation court disapproved the lump sum settlement application and joint stipulation, finding that the application and joint stipulation were not in compliance with the Act and not in the best interests of Plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the compensation court's order of disapproval, standing alone, was not a final, appealable order. View "Loyd v. Family Dollar Stores of Nebraska, Inc" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court overruling Appellant's motion to revive a judgment she obtained against Appellee more than two decades ago after Appellee stopped making payments, holding that the district court correctly overruled the motion for revivor on the ground that it was untimely. Appellant never executed on the judgment she obtained against Appellee, but Appellee made payments to her beginning in 1996 and ending in 2017. In 2018, Appellant filed a motion for revivor of the judgment. The district court overruled the motion as untimely, concluding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-216, which provides that partial payments generally toll the limitations period in contract actions, did not extend the time period for Appellant to seek reviver of a judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the judgment had become dormant and that the time period to revive it had expired. View "Nelssen v. Ritchie" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' action asking that the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services' (DCS) "Execution Protocol" be declared void and that DCS be enjoined from carrying out executions under the Execution Protocol, holding that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the action. Plaintiffs were two Nebraska citizens who brought this action alleging that DCS did not comply with statutory and constitutional requirements when it adopted the Execution Protocol setting forth how death sentences are to be carried out. The district court dismissed the action without reaching the merits, finding that Plaintiffs lacked standing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Plaintiffs did not face death sentences the Execution Protocol did not impair or threaten to interfere with their legal rights; and (2) the exceptions to the requirement that a plaintiff show a concrete injury to his or her legal rights to invoke a court's jurisdiction do not apply in an action brought under Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-911. View "Griffith v. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal from the district court's denial of Appellant's motion requesting that the court vacate its order dismissing Appellant's petition for renewal of a domestic abuse protection order, holding that this Court does not have jurisdiction to review the denial of such a motion. On appeal, Appellant conceded that because her notice of appeal was filed more than thirty days after the initial order dismissing the petition and because her motion to vacate did not suspend or extend the deadline for filing an appeal, her appeal of the order dismissing her petition was not timely. Nonetheless, Appellant argued that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to review the order denying her motion to vacate by other means. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that where Appellant's motion to vacate merely asserted that the order she sought to vacate was erroneous, the order was was not appealable. View "Green v. Seiffert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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In this action challenging an investigatory subpoena issued during the 105th Nebraska Legislature the Supreme Court dismissed this appeal as moot, holding that the subpoena expired at the commencement of the 106th Nebraska Legislature, and therefore, this Court could not grant the relief sought. The subpoena in question was issued during the 105 Legislature by the Judiciary Committee of the Nebraska Legislature with the approval of the Executive Committee of the 105th Legislature and commanded the attendance of the director of the Department of Correctional Services to testify at a committee hearing. Before the hearing, the State and the director of the Department (collectively, the Department) sued the senators who were on the Judiciary Committee and the Executive Board of the Legislative Council when the subpoena was issued and the Clerk of the Legislature who signed the subpoena, alleging that the subpoena was not in the discharge of any legal duty. The district court granted the Department's motion to quash the subpoena. The Senators appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that because the subpoena was issued by a committee of the Legislature which not longer exists, there is no longer a case and controversy as required for the exercise of the Court's judicial power. View "State ex rel. Peterson v. Ebke" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals summarily dismissing this appeal, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1329 applies to a district court's judgment disposing of a petition in error and overruling several previous decision to the extent that they held section 25-1329 inapplicable to judgments of a district court acting as an intermediate appellate court. Appellant filed a petition in error in the district court against Defendant, alleging that he was wrongfully terminated. The district court overruled the petition. Ten days later, Appellant moved for a new trial or, in the alternative, for an order vacating the judgment. The district court overruled the motion and the alternative motion. Thirty days afterward, Appellant filed a notice of appeal. The court of appeals summarily dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that it was untimely filed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 25-1329 does not apply to a judgment of a district court acting as an intermediate appellate court; and (2) in the instant case, the summary dismissal of Appellant's appeal must be reversed because Appellant's alternative motion to vacate qualified as a motion to alter or amend a judgment within the meaning of section 25-1329. View "McEwen v. Nebraska State College System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part the district court's denial of Defendants’ request for attorney fees and dismissed in part Defendants’ appeal from orders vacating summary judgment in favor of Defendants and overruling Defendants’ subsequent motion for summary judgment, holding that Defendants did not qualify as prevailing parties and that this Court lacked jurisdiction to review the summary judgment orders. The State brought claims against Defendants under Nebraska’s Consumer Protection Act, Neb. Rev. Sat. 59-1601 et seq., and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 87-301 et seq. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants and then later vacated its order of summary judgment. Defendants moved again for summary judgment, which the district court denied. After years of litigation, the State voluntarily dismissed the claims. The district court denied Defendants’ request for attorney fees, finding that the State’s voluntary dismissal did not make Defendants prevailing parties or purposes of section 59-1608(1). The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to review Defendants’ claim that the district court’s summary judgment orders were erroneous and that the district court did not err in denying Defendants’ motion for attorney fees. View "State ex rel. Peterson v. Creative Community Promotions, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant’s appeal from a condemnation of Appellant’s land by the City of Papillion, Nebraska for lack of jurisdiction but affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion for sanctions, holding that it was error to dismiss the condemnation action appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The City condemned land owned by Appellant. Following nearly five years and one judicial recusal, the district court dismissed Appellant’s condemnation appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The court also denied Appellant’s motion for sanctions asserting that the City’s motion for summary judgment was legally frivolous. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court incorrectly concluded that it lacked jurisdiction under the circumstances of this case; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for sanctions. View "Pinnacle Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Papillion" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing eight inmates' declaratory judgment action for failure to state a claim, holding that the inmates had other equally serviceable remedies available. Plaintiffs, eight death row inmates, filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that 2015 Neb. Laws, L.B. 268, which abolished the death penalty in Nebraska, was not repealed by referendum and also sought injunctive relief preventing the Department of Correctional Services and its director from carrying out executions against Plaintiffs or indispensable parties. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Plaintiffs had equally serviceable remedies. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Plaintiffs could not maintain a declaratory judgment claim because they had other equally serviceable remedies. View "Sandoval v. Ricketts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court vacated in part the judgment of the district court overruling Plaintiff’s motion to recuse and granting summary judgment to Defendants on all of Plaintiff’s remaining claims, holding that the judge should have recused himself. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant, her former employer, claiming retaliation, hostile work environment, and other claims. The district court granted summary judgment on the latter three claims. Defendant then moved for summary judgment on the retaliation and hostile work environment claims. When the district court judge assigned to the case became aware that his brother-in-law was a potential witness Plaintiff moved for recusal. Plaintiff then amended her complaint and added a claim under the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. 206(d). The district court overruled the motion to recuse and granted summary judgment on the remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed to the extent of the claims disposed of before the assertion of the Equal Pay Act claim and vacated as to all other claims, holding that because the judge’s brother-in-law was likely to be a material witness, Neb. Rev. Stat. 5-302.11(A)(2)(d) mandated disqualification of the judge. View "Thompson v. Millard Public School District No. 17" on Justia Law