Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the finding of the Workers’ Compensation Court that Employee, who was injured during the course and scope of her employment, had reached maximum medical improvement prior to the stroke she suffered approximately three weeks after she filed her petition in the compensation court seeking temporary and permanent disability benefits and the compensation court’s award of permanent total disability, holding that the compensation court did not err. The stroke suffered by Employee was unrelated to her work injury or treatment and left Employee largely incapacitated. The compensation court awarded Employee permanent total disability benefits, thus rejecting Employer’s contention that the occurrence of the stroke relieved Employer of the ongoing responsibility to pay total disability benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court did not err in (1) finding Employee reached maximum medical improvement prior to her stroke; (2) finding Employee was permanently and totally disabled; and (3) finding the stroke had no impact on Employee’s entitlement to ongoing permanent total disability benefits. View "Krause v. Five Star Quality Care, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the award of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court, holding that none of Employee’s contentions on appeal warranted modification of the award. In his petition, Employee sought temporary total disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, payment of past and future medical bills, and waiting-time penalties and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Workers’ Compensation Court did not err by failing to (1) award permanent disability based on a loss of earning capacity rather than a member impairment rating; (2) award permanent disability based on a twelve-percent member impairment rating rather than a fifteen-percent member impairment rating; (3) award a waiting-time penalty from the date of the injury rather than the date of payment of benefits in August 2016; (4) award Employee out-of-pocket medical expenses; and (5) award reimbursement of vacation time and short-term disability. View "Bower v. Eaton Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated in part and dismissed in part the appeal of the dismissal of Appellant’s mandamus action and the cross-appeal of the rejection of Appellee’s sovereign immunity defense, holding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Appellant’s mandamus action against Nebraska State Patrol (NSP), a state agency. Appellant filed this mandamus action against NSP seeking an order commanding NSP to remove from the public record information regarding his arrest. The district court rejected NSP’s sovereign immunity defense but dismissed the mandamus action on the grounds that the action was moot and mandamus relief was unavailable because Appellant had an adequate remedy at law. The Supreme Court held that Appellant’s mandamus action was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, and therefore, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action. View "State ex rel. Rhiley v. Nebraska State Patrol" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Court determining that Appellant’s injuries did not “arise out of” his employment, holding that Appellant’s assignment of error on appeal was without merit because he waived his argument by failing to present it to the compensation court. At trial, Appellant argued only that his injury arose out of employment because his fall, which resulted in injuries, resulted from a risk of employment. On appeal, however, Appellant argued that his injury arose out of employment under the “increased-danger” rule. The Supreme Court held that the trial court did not commit plain error by not applying the increased-danger rule, and Appellant waived his argument on appeal by failing to present it to the compensation court. View "Maroulakos v. Walmart Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reaffirmed that the language of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) directing that proceedings from review of actions taken by Nebraska administrative agencies or political subdivisions be instituted by filing a petition in the “district court of the county where the action is taken,” see Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-917(2)(a)(i), requires that a petition for review be filed in the district court of the county in which the first adjudicated hearing of a disputed claim took place. The petition for review in this case was not filed in the district court of the county where the first adjudicated hearing was held. The district court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants did not seek review in the manner provided by statute, and therefore, the district court did not acquire jurisdiction. View "Estate of Schluntz v. Lower Republican Natural Resources District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the separate juvenile court of Lancaster County that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) arrange and pay for Paxton H., a juvenile in its care and custody, to receive mental health services at a facility in Kansas, holding that the juvenile court’s order was in Paxton’s best interests. On appeal, DHHS acknowledged that Paxton required certain services but that it was not in his best interests to participate in a transition program several hours from his parents’ home. Instead, DHHS asserted that it would be better for Paxton to receive local services in Nebraska. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the juvenile court did not err in ordering DHHS to arrange and pay for Paxton to receive services at the Kansas facility. View "In re Paxton H." on Justia Law

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At issue was the tax exempt status of land purchased by the Upper Republican Natural Resources District (NRD) as part of a ground water integrated management plan. The NRD retired irrigated acres and converted them to grassland to achieve soil conservation and range management objectives and then leased much of the grassland for grazing. The parties here disputed, among other things, the extent to which the lease was at fair market value for a public purpose under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-202(1)(a) and the scope of the questions properly before the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC). The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of TERC that certain unimproved parcels of property, portions of two improved parcels, and contiguous parcels were used for a public purpose and therefore exempt and vacated those parts of the TERC’s opinion addressing issues other than whether the property was used for a public purpose. View "Upper Republican Natural Resources District v. Dundy County Board of Equalization" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the arbitration board finding that a discount to wholesale customers who renewed their contractual relationship with Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) was not discriminatory or an abuse of NPPD’s statutory rate-setting authority. Appellants were political subdivisions engaged in the distribution of electricity to retail electric customers and were wholesale customers of NPPD. Appellants brought this complaint after they elected not to renew their contractual relationship, alleging that the discount was discriminatory and that NPPD breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by charging them a different rate. The arbitration board determined that the discount was reasonable and nondiscriminatory and that NPPD did not breach the contract or the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that NPPD’s rate structure was fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory and that the rate structure did not constitute a breach of contract or the implied covenant of good faith. View "In re Application of Northeast Nebraska Public Power District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) affirming the valuations of certain grassland properties owned by the Betty L. Green Living Trust and the Richard R. Green Living Trust (the Trusts) that had been established by the county assessor and approved by the county board of equalization (the Board). In its decision, TERC concluded that the Trusts did not present competent evidence to rebut the presumption that the Board faithfully performed its duties and had sufficient competent evidence to make its determinations. The Supreme Court affirmed TERC’s order, holding that TERC’s decision conformed to the law, was supported by competent evidence, and was neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable. View "Betty L. Green Living Trust v. Morrill County Board of Equalization" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court sustaining Appellant’s motion for summary judgment insofar as it awarded her benefits for two scheduled injuries but denied her claim that she was permanently and totally disabled. The Court held (1) there was no merit to Appellant’s first assignment of error that Appellant’s employer admitted, through its responses to Appellant’s requests for admission, that Appellant was permanently and totally disabled; but (2) the trial court erred in weighing the evidence in the summary judgment matter and concluding that Appellant was not permanently and totally disabled. View "Wynne v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law