Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
Dutcher v. Nebraska Dep’t of Correctional Services
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the exclusivity provisions of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act (the Act), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-101 to 48-1,117 barred the claim of an employee of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services that the Department violated the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1101 to 48-1125, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the employee's NFEPA action.Plaintiff was injured while participating in mandated self-defense training and sought and received workers' compensation benefits from the time she was injured. After Plaintiff was unable to find a position with the Department that would accommodate her physical restrictions she brought this action against the Department for wrongful termination on the basis of her disability, in violation of NFEPA. The district court granted summary judgment for the Department on the basis of the exclusivity provisions of the Act barred Plaintiff's NFEPA claim as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly determined that it lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's NFEPA claim. View "Dutcher v. Nebraska Dep't of Correctional Services" on Justia Law
Badawi v. Albin
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court affirming the determination of the Nebraska Department of Labor that Appellant was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for fourteen weeks after his employment at JBS Swift Beef ended because he was discharged for misconduct, holding that remand was required.In his appeal to the district court, Appellant argued that the appeal tribunal erred in finding that he was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he was discharged for misconduct and in thus imposing a fourteen-week benefit disqualification upon him. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no competent evidence to support the district court's finding that JBS met its burden to prove Appellant was discharged for misconduct. View "Badawi v. Albin" on Justia Law
Spratt v. Crete Carrier Corp.
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the compensation court denying James Spratt's request seeking to modify his workers' compensation award, holding that the compensation court erred in holding that it lacked the statutory to do so and, alternatively, that the principal of finality precluded relief.Spratt injured his back while working for Crete Carrier Corporation and received a workers' compensation award granting medical rehabilitation services for his lumbar back. Spratt subsequently requested that the compensation court modify the original award so that he may receive thoracic back treatment. The compensation court denied Spratt's request for modification. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the compensation court erred in concluding that it lacked the power to modify the original award to treat Spratt's thoracic back; and (2) modification was not precluded by the law-of-the-case doctrine. View "Spratt v. Crete Carrier Corp." on Justia Law
Abbott v. City of Bellevue
The Supreme Court affirmed in part as modified and reversed in part the judgment of the district court finding that the City of Bellevue, Nebraska unconstitutionally impaired its contractual obligations and ordering the City to insert certain language into the document governing the retirement plan, holding that the district court erred in part.After the City increased the amount it regularly deducted from its police officers' paychecks to fund their retirement plan, a group of officers and their union (collectively, Plaintiffs) filed suit, alleging that the City had violated the Contracts Clauses and Takings Clauses of the state and federal constitutions. The district court granted the motion in part, finding that the City unconstitutionally impaired its contractual obligations and ordering the City to insert certain language into the retirement plan. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court's order should be modified to remove the language in question; and (2) the district court made a legal error by finding that Plaintiffs were not the prevailing parties. View "Abbott v. City of Bellevue" on Justia Law
Marr v. West Corp.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying West Corporation's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and motion for a new trial after the jury found that West breached contracts with a former employee, Kenneth Marr, holding that there was no reversible error on the part of the district court.A few months after his resignation from West, Marr brought this action alleging that he was contractually entitled to compensation that West had refused to pay. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Marr, finding West liable for damages in the amount of $400,540. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no prejudicial error in the district court's evidentiary rulings and that the district court did not err in denying West's motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial. View "Marr v. West Corp." on Justia Law
Baker-Heser v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' claims against the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) alleging violations of the Health Care Facility Licensure Act (HCFLA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 71-401 to -476, and granting summary judgment to DHHS on the claims alleging violations of the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1101 to -1125, holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs were two former employees of a state hospital who highlighted inadequate record keeping for hospital psychiatrists. Plaintiffs were subsequently fired. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging violations of the NFEPA and the HCFLA. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims based on the HCFLA on sovereign immunity grounds and then granted summary judgment in favor of DHHS on the NFEPA claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Plaintiffs did not establish that they engaged in protected activity, the district court properly entered summary judgment against them on the NFEPA claims; and (2) because the State did not waive its sovereign immunity to suit under the HCFLA, the court properly dismissed those claims. View "Baker-Heser v. State" on Justia Law
City of Omaha v. Professional Firefighters Ass’n
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court confirming an arbitration award ordering the reinstatement of Steve LeClair to his position as a firefighter with the City of Omaha, holding that the district court did not err in refusing to vacate the arbitrator's decision.After LeClair was charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct the City discharged him from employment. LeClair invoked his right under the collective bargaining agreement between the City and the union to challenge his discharge in arbitration. The arbitrator concluded that the City did not have just cause to terminate LeClair's employment and ordered his reinstatement with backpay. The City filed a motion to vacate the arbitration decision. The district confirmed the arbitration award and ordered the City to pay the union's attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court erred in awarding attorney fees and costs because the City's motion to vacate was not frivolous; and (2) the district court's order in all other respects was without error. View "City of Omaha v. Professional Firefighters Ass'n" on Justia Law
Lewis v. MBC Construction Co.
The Supreme Court vacated the order of the compensation court requiring Defendants to modify an existing home or potentially build a unit to meet the accessibility requirements of Allen Michael Lewis, holding that the compensation court's order did not provide a meaningful basis for appellate review.Lewis was injured in the course of his employment with MBC, resulting in the amputation of his left leg. Because of his restrictions, Lewis sought modification of his rental property from MBC and filed a motion to compel that would direct MBC to build the accessible house for his use. The compensation court found that Lewis' proposed house was not reasonable and necessary but directed MBC either to find an existing home to which modifications could be made or, alternatively, to provide housing for Lewis by either building or purchasing an accessible home for him. The Supreme Court vacated the order below, holding (1) the compensation court's order was confusing and the undertakings of each party were unclear; and (2) this case is remanded for the compensation court to enter an order in compliance with Workers' Comp. Ct. R. Of Proc. 11. View "Lewis v. MBC Construction Co." on Justia Law
Melton v. City of Holdrege
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court awarding Benjamin Melton workers' compensation benefits for a loss of foot and a partial loss of legs function after his leg was amputated below the knee, holding that the court's factual findings were not clearly wrong and there was no error of law.On appeal, Melton argued that the trial court erred in determining his loss and in deciding not to award a penalty regarding permanent loss of his foot or vocational rehabilitation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court (1) did not determine Melton's loss based on use of his prosthesis; (2) did not clearly err in not awarding Melton a total loss for use of his left leg; (3) properly awarded a combined total of 193 weeks of compensation; (4) did not clearly err in failing to award a waiting-time penalty, interest, and attorney fees with respect to late payment of permanent disability benefits for the loss of Melton's foot; and (5) did not err in denying vocational rehabilitation benefits. View "Melton v. City of Holdrege" on Justia Law
Fraternal Order of Police v. City of York
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of Nebraska's Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR) dismissing a complaint brought by a bargaining agent against a public employer for prohibited labor practices, holding that the public employer did not commit any of the prohibited practices alleged in the complaint.Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 31 (FOP), the exclusive collective bargaining agent for a bargaining unit consisting of members of the York Police Department, brought this action against the City of York as the political subdivision that employed FOP's bargaining unit. FOP alleged that, in relation to a residency requirement for a promotion, the Department engaged in prohibited labor practices. The CIR dismissed the petition and refused to award attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Department did not commit any of the alleged prohibited labor practices. View "Fraternal Order of Police v. City of York" on Justia Law