Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Construction Law
BCL Properties, Inc. v. Boyle
The Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment awarding attorney fees in this action brought over a dispute between a general contractor and a property owner related to a residential construction contract but otherwise affirmed the judgment, holding that there was no statute or uniform course of procedure that allowed recovery of attorney fees on this record.After Property Owner failed to pay a construction lien General Contractor filed a breach of contract action and sought to foreclosure on the lien. Property Owner counterclaimed. The district court entered judgment in favor of General Contractor. Thereafter, the district court granted prejudgment interest in the amount of $49,946 and attorney fees in the amount of $115,473. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in awarding attorney fees pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 52-157 of the Nebraska Construction Lien Act; and (2) Property Owner was not entitled to relief on her remaining allegations of error. View "BCL Properties, Inc. v. Boyle" on Justia Law
Echo Group, Inc. v. Tradesmen International
The Supreme Court reversed in part the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in three cases consolidated for appeal involving foreclosures of construction liens under the Nebraska Construction Lien Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 52-125 to 52-159, holding that summary judgment was proper but that an award of attorney fees was not.At issue in these appeals was whether equitable considerations made summary judgment improper, whether prejudgment interest was authorized in each case, and whether attorney fees were recoverable. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) summary judgment was proper because there was no dispute that the supplier complied with the provisions of the Nebraska Construction Lien Act; (2) an award of prejudgment interest was authorized because the claims were liquidated; and (3) under the circumstances, there was no statutory authorization for an award of attorney fees. View "Echo Group, Inc. v. Tradesmen International" on Justia Law
Porter v. Knife River, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court that granted summary judgment in favor of highway construction contractors and subcontractors (collectively, contractors) in this action alleging negligent maintenance of a construction site, holding that the contractors were entitled to summary judgment.Officer Curtis Blackbird died on duty when his police cruiser crashed into a parked crane and a portion of Highway 94 that was closed for construction. Plaintiff brought this action against the contractors, alleging negligence. The district court granted summary judgment for the contractors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no triable issue of fact, and therefore, the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the contractors. View "Porter v. Knife River, Inc." on Justia Law
de Vries v. L & L Custom Builders, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering judgment upon the jury's general verdict in favor of Homeowners in their complaint against the builder of their house (Builder), holding that there was no error.Homeowners brought this suit alleging defects in the construction of their home and in the preparation of the lot it was built on. The jury found in a special verdict form that Homeowners' claims were not barred by the statute of limitations and rendered a general verdict in favor of Homeowners. Builder appealed, challenging the amount of damages and the court's statute of limitations rulings. Builder cross-appealed, challenging the damages award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in refusing to determine the statute of limitations as a matter of law, in giving its instructions on the statute of limitations, or in failing to order remittitur or setoff of the damages award; and (2) did not err in excluding evidence of stigma damages. View "de Vries v. L & L Custom Builders, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law
McGill Restoration v. Lion Place Condominium Association
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of a contractor (Contractor) against the homeowners' association (HOA) that hired it to perform repair work, holding that the district court did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court did not err in (1) finding that the HOA had waived, by one of the methods described in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1126, its right to a jury trial and in refusing to allow the HOA to withdraw its waiver; (2) concluding that the HOA had to present expert testimony to support its defense and counterclaims asserting that the repair work was done in an unworkmanlike manner; (3) excluding lay testimony of other contractors, in finding the HOA's expert witness lacked foundation for his opinions, and in excluding testimony relating to what the court found to be compromise negotiations; and (4) awarding prejudgment interest and attorney fees. View "McGill Restoration v. Lion Place Condominium Association" on Justia Law
McCaulley v. C L Enterprises, Inc.
In this construction defect case brought by homeowners against several contractors, the Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court that the limitations period against each contractor began to run upon the substantial completion of each contractor's project.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the contractors in this case, generally agreeing that the limitations period for the homeowners' claims against the contractors began to run on the dates that each contractor substantially completed its work. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Homeowners' claims against the contractors were time barred as matter of law under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-223 and by denying their oral motion seeking leave to amend their complaint to add a new claim. View "McCaulley v. C L Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law
Fuelberth v. Heartland Heating & Air Conditioning
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Heartland Heating & Air Conditions, Inc. on the claims brought by Troy and Julie Fuelberth alleging that Heartland's work for them was defective, holding that Heartland was not entitled to summary judgment.In their complaint, the Fuelberths alleged that Heartland performed defective work for them in designing, constructing and installing an interior in-floor geothermal system and an exterior cement system for a shop building on the Fuelberths' farm. The district court entered summary judgment for Heartland on statute of limitations grounds. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court by entering summary judgment in favor of Heartland on statute of limitations grounds. View "Fuelberth v. Heartland Heating & Air Conditioning" on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law
First State Bank Nebraska v. MP Nexlevel, LLC
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing First State Bank Nebraska's (First State) claims against MP Nexlevel, LLC seeking performance under a contract, holding that the district court erred in granting MP Nexlevel summary judgment and dismissing First State's complaint.MP Nexlevel contracted to pay Husker Underground Utilities & Construction, LLC for construction services. Due to separate loan agreements, First State held a security interest in Husker Underground's accounts. When Husker Underground failed to meet its loan obligations, First State sought direct payment of MP Nexlevel's obligations under the contract. However, MP Nexlevel continued to submit its payments to Husker Underground. First State ultimately brought suit against MP Nexlevel for performance under the contract. The district court concluded that First State lacked standing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Neb. Rev. Stat. 9-406(a) imposed a duty on MP Nexlevel to discharge its obligations under its agreement with Husker Underground by paying directly to First State; (2) MP Nexlevel breached its obligations to First State; and (3) First State was authorized by Neb. Rev. Stat. 9-607(a)(3) to step into Husker Underground's place and enforce MP Nexlevel's contractual obligations as adjusted by operation of section 9-406(a). View "First State Bank Nebraska v. MP Nexlevel, LLC" on Justia Law
Ash Grove Cement Co. v. Nebraska Department of Revenue
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court finding that the production of aggregate by Ash Grove Cement Company qualified as "processing" under the Nebraska Advantage Act (NAA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-5701 to 77-5735, and finding that Ash Grove's aggregate production did not qualify as "manufacturing" under the NAA, holding that the appeals in this case were without merit.Because Lyman-Richey, which sold aggregate products used for things like manufacturing concrete, was wholly owned by Ash Grove, Ash Grove was eligible to include Lyman-Richey in its application for NAA tax incentives. At issue in this case was whether the district court erred in (1) finding that aggregate production locations were not engaged in "manufacturing" under the NAA; (2) denying Lyman-Richey's claims for overpayment of sales and use tax based on the manufacturing machinery or equipment exemption; and (3) finding the aggregate production locations were engaged in "processing" under the NAA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) although Ash Grove did not engage in "manufacturing" when it produced aggregate without crushing, it did engage in the qualified business of "processing" under the NAA; and (2) Lyman-Richey failed to prove entitlement to overpayment of sales and use tax based on the manufacturing machinery and equipment exemption. View "Ash Grove Cement Co. v. Nebraska Department of Revenue" on Justia Law
Goes v. Vogler
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that Defendants owed damages to their general contractor and two of its subcontractors (collectively, Plaintiffs) for the construction of a residential home, holding that judgment was correctly entered for Plaintiffs.Plaintiffs filed construction liens and brought contract suits claiming unpaid balances for construction services rendered. The district court determined that the contract was a cost-plus agreement, that defects in workmanship were punch list items and not a breach by the general contractor, and that Defendants committed the first material breach of contract and owed damages to Plaintiffs. Defendants appealed, arguing that the contract was a fixed-price contract breached by the general contractor and that, even under a cost-plus contract, the general contractor breached a fiduciary duty to provide a full account for its bills when it requested draw payments. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err when it found that the construction contract was a cost-plus contract and that Defendants breached that contract when they failed to pay draws required under the contract; and (2) the general contractor met its obligations under the contract. View "Goes v. Vogler" on Justia Law