Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for two counts of first degree murder, two counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and one count of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that Defendant's assignments of error either were without merit or were not adequately preserved for appellate review. On appeal, Defendant argued that two of the district court's jury instructions were incorrect, that the affidavit relied upon by law enforcement to obtain a warrant to collect a sample of Defendant's DNA was insufficient to support probable cause, and that the identification of Defendant by one of the State's witnesses was unreliable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant either waived his right to assert the allege errors on appeal or that his arguments on appeal were without merit. View "State v. Pope" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against Defendant, a law firm, holding that the district court correctly determined it lacked jurisdiction over the complaint. Defendant had represented Aspen Holding, Inc. when Aspen merged with and was acquired by Markel Corporation. As a representative of Aspen's former shareholders, Plaintiff brought suit seeking to obtain the Aspen attorney-client filed for the former shareholders' dispute with Markel over payments from the merger. The district court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, finding (1) Plaintiff failed to allege that Defendant had the requisite minimum contacts with the State, and therefore, the court did not have personal jurisdiction over Defendant; and (2) Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Plaintiff's motion regarding jurisdictional discovery; and (2) Plaintiff failed to establish a continuing substantial connection under the operative facts of the litigation to establish that Defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with Nebraska for the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction. View "Yeransian v. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals dismissing Metro Area Transit's (Metro) appeal of the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity, holding that the court of appeals had jurisdiction pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902. The underlying claim was a subrogation action in which Great Northern Insurance Company sought compensation from Metro under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-901 et seq. Metro moved for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity. The district court denied the motion, and Metro appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction because the denial of a motion for summary judgment is interlocutory and not a final order. At issue was the amendment of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902, which added denials of summary judgment based on a claim of sovereign immunity to the definition of a final order. The statute was amended after the order denying summary judgment was entered but before the thirty-day period to file a timely appeal expired and before Metro filed its notice of appeal. The Supreme Court granted Metro's petition for further review and reversed, holding that the court of appeals had jurisdiction pursuant to the newly amended section 25-1902. View "Great Northern Insurance Co. v. Transit Authority of Omaha" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court overruling BNSF Railway Company's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction this negligence action brought under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51 through 60, holding that the district court erred in determining that it could exercise personal jurisdiction over BNSF for claim that were unrelated to BNSF's instate activity. Plaintiff was seriously injured while working for BNSF on a section of train tracks near Houston, Texas. Plaintiff filed a complaint in the district court under FELA, alleging that his injuries were a result of BNSF's negligence. BNSF filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction because BNSF was not "at home" in Nebraska and because Plaintiff's injuries had occurred in Texas. The district court overruled the motion to dismiss, finding that BNSF consented to personal jurisdiction by registering to do business in Nebraska. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that BNSF was not "at home" in Nebraska for purposes of general jurisdiction and that treating BNSF's registration to do business in Nebraska as implied consent to personal jurisdiction would exceed the due process limits set forth in prior cases. View "Lanham v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

by
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

by
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
by
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
by
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
by
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
by
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