Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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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

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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing and vacating an award of penalties and attorney fees, holding that, for reasoning different from the court of appeals, the court of appeals did not err when it reversed the award of penalties and attorney fees.Martin Boring filed a petition against Zoetis LLC in the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court (WCC) claiming a compensable injury arising from his employment with Zoetis. The WCC awarded Boring temporary and permanent benefits and ordered Zoetis to pay Boring penalties and attorney fees under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-125. The court of appeals affirmed the benefits award but vacated the award of penalties and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the WCC erred when it found that there was no reasonable controversy based solely on its reliance on the judicial admission in Zoetis' answer. View "Boring v. Zoetis LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that it lacked jurisdiction over this petition in error, holding that the district court did not err when it dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction.After a hearing involving the presentation of sworn testimony and other evidence conducted pursuant to procedures in the relevant collective bargaining agreement (CBA), a grievance committee of a county with fewer than 150,000 residents decided that the managerial and disciplinary rights of the CBA permitted the county department of corrections to forbid a correctional officer from working certain shifts due to a prior disciplinary action. The correctional officer filed a petition in error, which the district court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining that it lacked jurisdiction because no statute specifically requires an evidentiary hearing before a grievance committee and because the committee decided matters of law concerning the meaning of the CBA rather than matters of disputed fact. View "Champion v. Hall County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the decision of the State Personnel Board determining that an award of "front pay," commonly viewed as money awarded in lieu of employment reinstatement, was not appropriate, holding that there were no errors in the record.After the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) terminated Appellant's job as a health program manager, Appellant challenged the termination. Appellant sought lost wages, including lost benefits, front pay, and back pay. DHHS eventually withdrew the allegations against Appellant but contested his claim for front pay. The district court concluded that the Personnel Board lacked authority to grant the equitable relief of front pay. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it found that Appellant could be reinstated and, therefore, Appellant's claim for front pay was properly denied. View "Christopherson v. Nebraska Dept. of Health & Human Servs." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court on remand appointing an employee's "Form 50" physician and clarifying that it was not ordering a review of the employee's treatment regimen, holding that the order complied with this Court's mandate.Employee injured her back in the course and scope of her employment. As part of a settlement between Employee and her employer and its insurer (collectively, Employer), Employee completed a Form 50 anticipating that Employer would pay for treatment of Employee's injuries by her Form 50 physician. Employee chose a Nebraska doctor to serve as her Form 50 physician, but when she moved to Florida, she informed Employer that she had chosen a Florida doctor as her new Form 50 physician. Employer subsequently stopped paying for Employee's treatment. The compensation court ordered Employer to pay Employee's medical bills. The Supreme Court reversed, ruling that Employer was not required to pay for Employee's Florida medical treatment because Employee had not followed the statutory procedures to change her Form 50 physician. On remand, the compensation court appointed the Florida doctor as Employee's Form 50 physician. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court did not err in its order on remand. View "Rogers v. Jack's Supper Club" on Justia Law

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In this workers' compensation case, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the compensation court granting Donna Parks compensation for chronic pain and aggravation of her mental health issues, both caused by a work-related low-back injury, holding that there was no merit to Hy-Vee Inc.'s arguments on appeal.Parks incurred a work-related injury in 2008 while employed by Hy-Vee and was granted compensation for her low-back injury. In 2017, the compensation court entered a further award granting Parks compensation for chronic pain and aggravation of her mental health issues caused by the low-back injury. Thereafter, the court modified the further award upon Parks' motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the compensation court's further award was not based on legal error; (2) the record supported the court's findings of fact, upon which the further award was based; and (3) the compensation court did not abuse its powers in modifying the further award. View "Parks v. Hy-Vee, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of the State and dismissing Plaintiff's claims, including a violation of the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act (NWPCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1228 to 48-1234, and denying Plaintiff's motion for class certification as moot, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff, an employee of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), sought to bring an action on behalf of himself and other DHHS employees against the State, alleging that DHHS's refusal to pay him for leave hours during pay periods in which he also worked his full complement of hours violated the NWPCA and other state laws. The district court sustained the State's motion for summary judgment and overruled Plaintiff's motion for class certification as moot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. View "Lassalle v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's claims for defamation and retaliation, holding that the district court did not err in instructing the jury and in applying Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-840.01 and directing a verdict in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's defamation claim.After Plaintiff's employment with Defendant was terminated Plaintiff filed a claim of retaliation under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1101 to -1126, and defamation. The district court granted a directed verdict for Defendant on the defamation claim, and a jury found Plaintiff failed to prove his retaliation claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not commit prejudicial error in (1) giving a jury instruction for retaliation that required Plaintiff to have opposed or refused to carry out a practice of Defendant that was unlawful; (2) giving a jury instruction on the business judgment rule; and (3) granting Defendant a directed verdict on the defamation claim. View "Haffke v. Signal 88, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court modified the opinion of the court of appeals to direct the dismissal of Plaintiff's amended petition to a limited extent, holding that there was no basis for directing Plaintiff's entire petition to be dismissed.Plaintiff was injured in an acceding arising out of and in the course of his employment. Plaintiff later filed a petition seeking reimbursement for continuing medical treatment related to the work accident, alleging that he had injured his head, neck and lower back and required treatment for depression and anxiety. The compensation court concluded that Plaintiff was entitled to reimbursement for treatment of his lower back, as well as depression and anxiety, but that Plaintiff was not entitled to reimbursement for medical treatment related to head and neck injuries. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with directions to dismiss the petition, concluding that the evidence was insufficient to establish that Plaintiff's depression and anxiety developed as a result of his low back condition. The Supreme Court modified the court of appeals' opinion, concluding that the petition should be dismissed only to the extent it sought reimbursement for treatment for depression, anxiety, and head and neck injuries. View "Frans v. Waldinger Corp." on Justia Law