Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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