Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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In this dispute arising from a party’s failure to perform on a promissory note Steven Anderson filed a complaint against Steve Finkle alleging breach of contract and quantum meruit or unjust enrichment. After trial but before the trial court issued its order, Anderson died. Thereafter, the district court issued an order awarding Anderson the amount of the promissory note plus interest. Finkle filed a motion for new trial and then the estate filed a motion for revivor. The district court overruled Finkle’s motion and granted the estate’s motion reviving the matter in the name of the personal representative of the estate. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals in both cases, holding (1) because of Anderson’s death, the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter judgment and deny Finkle’s motion for new trial, and therefore these orders were void, and Finkle’s first appeal did not divest the district court of its jurisdiction; and (2) this court was without jurisdiction to entertain Finkle’s appeal of the order of revivor because it was not a final order. View "Anderson v. Finkle" on Justia Law

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Linda Clarke filed suit against First National Bank of Omaha (FNB) alleging that she, rather than Gregg Graham, was the owner of a certificate of deposit. FNB filed a third-party action seeking recovery against Graham to the extent FNB was liable to Clarke. The parties filed competing motions for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for Clark against FNB and in favor of FNB against Graham. Graham filed a motion for new trial. Before the court had ruled on the motion, Graham filed his notice of appeal. FNB filed a motion for summary dismissal, arguing that the court of appeals lacked jurisdiction because the notice of appeal was prematurely filed. The court of appeals overruled the motion for summary dismissal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Graham’s notice of appeal was prematurely filed and, therefore, was without effect. View "Clarke v. First National Bank of Omaha" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant seeking to establish paternity, custody, and support of the parties’ minor child. Thereafter, Plaintiff moved to disqualify Defendant’s privately retained legal counsel. The district court granted the motion. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, which the district court denied. Defendant then filed a purported appeal from the court’s order, assigning seven errors relating to the district court’s disqualification of her attorney. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) this Court improperly exceeded its statutory and constitutional authority twenty years ago when it adopted the so-called Richardson exception to the final order requirement, and therefore, the Court’s line of decisions purporting to authorize an interlocutory appeal are hereby overruled; and (2) because the appeal from the order at issue in this case is not statutorily authorized, the appeal is dismissed. View "Heckman v. Marchio" on Justia Law

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Ginger Cove Common Area Company sued Scott Wiekhorst for unpaid assessments. Wiekhorst filed a counterclaim alleging that Ginger Cover violated its fiduciary duty. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment against Wiekhorst. Wiekhorst appealed, challenging an order entered two months earlier that overruled his motion to vacate or set aside an order of sanctions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Wiekhorst properly waited until final judgment to appeal; but (2) because Wiekhorst failed to present a record to support his assigned error, this Court affirms the lower court’s decision regarding that error. View "Ginger Cove Common Area Co. v. Wiekhorst" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Michael Burns and Kerry Burns divorced. This appeal involved a contempt proceeding between the parties that was pending before the district court for Adams County. Judge James Doyle, acting as the district judge for Adams County, issued an order requiring Kerry to appear in the Dawson County District Court and show cause why she should not be held in contempt for refusing to comply with prior orders. When Kerry did not appear for the show cause hearing the district court entered an order finding Kerry in contempt and sanctioning her to ten days in jail. Thereafter, Kerry moved the district court to vacate its order on the basis that the court did not have authority to hold an evidentiary hearing outside of the county in which it was sitting. The district court overruled Kerry’s motion to vacate. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court did not act in conformity with the law when it ordered Kerry to appear in Dawson County and when it held the contempt hearing there because Dawson County was outside the pending county of Adams County. Remanded. View "Burns v. Burns" on Justia Law

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Seller agreed to sell an aerial spraying company to Buyer pursuant to a purchase agreement that contained a covenant not to compete. Seller, his son, and the company (collectively, Seller) subsequently filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the covenant not to compete was overbroad and unenforceable. Buyer counterclaimed. After a trial, the district court found that the noncompete agreement was void and unenforceable. The court did not address Buyer’s counterclaims. Buyer appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. After the cause was remanded, the parties filed a stipulated motion to dismiss without prejudice, jointly requesting dismissal of Buyer’s breach-of-contract counterclaims and Seller’s motion for damages and attorney fees. The district court entered an order of dismissal without prejudice that largely mirrored the language of the parties’ stipulated motion. Buyer then appealed the declaratory judgment ruling. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order appealed from was not a final order, and the Court therefore lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal. View "Last Pass Aviation, Inc. v. Western Cooperative Co." on Justia Law

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Western Ethanol Co., LLC obtained a judgment lien on Midwest Renewable Energy, LLC’s Lincoln County real property. Western Ethanol then dissolved and transferred its assets to its members. Douglas Vind, the managing member of Western Ethanol, claimed that Western Ethanol transferred the Midwest Renewable judgment to him. Thereafter, Midwest Renewable filed a quiet title action against several entities and all known and unknown parties claiming an interest in its Lincoln County property, including Western Ethanol. After a trial, the court ruled that Western Ethanol’s judgment had been assigned to Vind, who was never made a party to the litigation, and that the judgment lien against the real estate owned by Midwest Renewable was still valid and subsisting. The court subsequently dismissed with prejudice Midwest Renewable’s action regarding Western Ethanol. The Supreme Court vacated the court’s opinion and judgment, holding (1) Western Ethanol was amenable to suit; and (2) the trial court erred in not making Vind a party to the action sua sponte because he was an indispensable party to the controversies decided by the court. Remanded with direction to make Vind a party. View "Midwest Renewable Energy, LLC v. American Engineering Testing, Inc." on Justia Law

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Homeowners obtained loans from Bank for the construction of a new home and entered into an agreement with Contractor to complete the new home construction. When Homeowners defaulted on payments owed to Contractor and on both loans, the house was sold at foreclosure, and Homeowners filed for bankruptcy. Contractor filed a fourth amended complaint against Homeowners, who were later dismissed as parties, and Bank. Following a trial the court granted summary judgment for Bank on Contractor’s claims of fraud and civil conspiracy. The Supreme Court reversed. After remand, Contractor filed a fifth amended complaint, which differed from the fourth amended complaint in several respects. The district court determined that the election of remedies doctrine and judicial estoppel required a dismissal of Contractor’s claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Contractor’s claims were consistently premised on the existence of a contract, and therefore, no election was required; and (2) Contractor’s claims were based on different facts and obligations, and therefore, both could be pursued. View "deNourie & Yost Homes, LLC v. Frost" on Justia Law

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The State filed motions for termination of Mother’s parental rights to her five children due to abandonment, neglect, and aggravated circumstances. After a hearing, the county court granted the State’s motions to terminate Mother’s parental rights. The consolidated order was issued on April 4, 2016. On April 28, 2016, the court issued a consolidated order nunc pro tunc, which stated that the April 4 order would be vacated and reissued under the date of April 28 to allow the parties to have an appropriate amount of time to file an appeal. No party moved to vacate the April 4 order. Mother subsequently filed notices of appeal from the court’s April 28 order nunc pro tunc, arguing that the county court erred in finding that it was in the children’s best interests to terminate Mother’s parental rights. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals, holding (1) the district court had no authority to issue its April 28 order; and (2) Mother failed to file notices of appeal within thirty days of the April 4 order, and therefore, this Court was without jurisdiction. View "In re Interest of Luz P." on Justia Law

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After an adjudicative hearing, the juvenile court found the three children of Mother and Father were within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a) as to both parents due to physical abuse. The State subsequently filed a supplemental petition alleging that all three children were within the meaning of section 43-247(3)(a). Father filed a motion to dismiss the supplemental petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because the allegations were barred by claim and issue preclusion. The juvenile court agreed and dismissed the State’s supplemental petition. The Supreme Court vacated the order of dismissal, holding (1) the juvenile court erred by not converting the motions to dismiss into motions for summary judgment and allowing both parties an opportunity to produce evidence supporting their arguments; and (2) the doctrine of claim preclusion should not be strictly applied in abuse and neglect cases when doing so would fail to protect children from continuing abuse or neglect. Remanded for further proceedings on the supplemental petition. View "In re Interest of Noah B." on Justia Law