Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from an order disapproving the parties' application for an order approving a lump-sum settlement on the grounds that the application was not in compliance with the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-101 et seq., holding that the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court's order of disapproval was not a final, appealable order. Plaintiff filed a petition seeking benefits for injuries she sustained while working for Employer. The parties eventually agreed to settle the dispute for a lump-sum payment of $150,000, along with the establishment of an interest-bearing account for additional medical payments. The parties filed a joint stipulation, but the stipulation did not include the amount of fees and costs. The compensation court disapproved the lump sum settlement application and joint stipulation, finding that the application and joint stipulation were not in compliance with the Act and not in the best interests of Plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the compensation court's order of disapproval, standing alone, was not a final, appealable order. View "Loyd v. Family Dollar Stores of Nebraska, Inc" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Employer and dismissing two former employees' complaint seeking paid time off (PTO) compensation under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act (Wage Act), holding that the employees did not meet the written employment agreement's stated conditions to earn PTO. As an affirmative defense to Employees' claims, Employer argued that Employees' claims were barred by the terms of the agreement. Specifically, Employer argued that because Employees did not have billable hours and did not bill hours to a client no PTO accrued under the agreement. The district court sustained Employer's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Employees did not bill to clients more than forty hours of work per week Employees did not earn PTO under the terms of the employment agreement. View "Drought v. Marsh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court dismissing Plaintiff's petition alleging that she had sustained a severe and permanent brain injury as a result of an accident with a nail gun while she was at work for Builders Supply Company, Inc., holding that the compensation court did not err in concluding that Plaintiff had been willfully negligent. The workers' compensation court dismissed Plaintiff's petition upon finding that she intentionally shot herself in the head with the nail gun. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court (1) did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of Plaintiff's expert witness as a discovery sanction; (2) did not abuse its discretion in declining to grant Plaintiff a second continuance; and (3) did not err in finding that Plaintiff acted with willful negligence. View "Eddy v. Builders Supply Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court awarding temporary total disability and attorney fees to Suzy Fentress, holding that the compensation court did not err. Fentress received a workplace injury while working for Westin, Inc. The compensation court entered an award in which Fentress received temporary partial workers' compensation benefits. Westin later moved to terminate the temporary indemnity benefits and to determine maximum medical improvement (MMI) and permanency. After the compensation court held an evidentiary hearing to determine MMI Westin moved to withdraw its motion to determine MMI. The compensation court disallowed the withdrawal of the motion and, thereafter, awarded temporary total disability and attorney fees to Fentress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court did not err when it (1) overruled Westin's motion to withdraw its motion to determine MMI; (2) admitted certain evidence during the hearing; (3) found that Fentress had achieved MMI with respect to mental health issues but not physical health issues; and (4) awarded Fentress medical treatment, temporary total disability, and attorney fees. View "Fentress v. Westin, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Workers' Compensation Court ordering Jack's Supper Club and its workers' compensation carrier (collectively, JSC) to reimburse Sheryl Rogers for medical expenses she incurred, holding that where Rogers selected the physicians who provided the treatment at issue in disregard of provisions of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, JSC was not responsible to reimburse Rogers. Rogers injured her back while working for JSC. The compensation court approved a lump-sum settlement, and JSC remained responsible to pay Rogers for reasonable and necessary medical care for her work-related injury. After Rogers received treatment she asked that the compensation court order JSC to reimburse her. The JSC argued that it was not responsible for the medical expenses because Rogers failed to comply with Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-120(2), a statute governing selection of treating physicians. The compensation court rejected the JSC's arguments and ordered JSC to pay certain bills offered by Rogers. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the compensation court erred in ordering JSC to reimburse Rogers for her treatment and by issuing a decision that did not comply with Workers' Comp. Ct. R. of Proc. 11. View "Rogers v. Jack's Supper Club" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the court of appeals' decision reducing Terry Bortolotti's weekly income benefit awarded by the workers' compensation court from the maximum to the minimum and eliminating the award of out-of-pocket medical expenses, holding that the reduced weekly benefit was correct but that the medical expense award should be reinstated. In upholding the reduced weekly benefit, the Supreme Court held (1) the compensation court erroneously based the determination of Bortolotti's average weekly wage on a superseded and inoperative pleading, and the court of appeals' determination of average weekly wage was supported by competent evidence in the record; and (2) as to Bortolotti's medical expenses, the court of appeals failed to give Bortolotti's testimony the inferences mandated by the deferential standard of review. View "Bortolotti v. Universal Terrazzo & Tile Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for the City of Scottsbluff, Nebraska and dismissing Plaintiff's claim of discrimination and retaliation under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA), holding that the City was entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff, a former police officer for the City, was terminated when he refused to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination (FFDE). Plaintiff brought this action alleging discrimination and retaliation. The district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) based on the undisputed evidence in the record, the City could lawfully require Plaintiff to undergo an FFDE under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1107.02(1)(j); and (2) because Plaintiff alleged that the City retaliated against him for expressing disapproval of his fellow employees' actions, as to his employer's actions, there was not a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Plaintiff engaged in protected activity pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1114(3). View "McPherson v. City of Scottsbluff" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals summarily dismissing this appeal, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1329 applies to a district court's judgment disposing of a petition in error and overruling several previous decision to the extent that they held section 25-1329 inapplicable to judgments of a district court acting as an intermediate appellate court. Appellant filed a petition in error in the district court against Defendant, alleging that he was wrongfully terminated. The district court overruled the petition. Ten days later, Appellant moved for a new trial or, in the alternative, for an order vacating the judgment. The district court overruled the motion and the alternative motion. Thirty days afterward, Appellant filed a notice of appeal. The court of appeals summarily dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that it was untimely filed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 25-1329 does not apply to a judgment of a district court acting as an intermediate appellate court; and (2) in the instant case, the summary dismissal of Appellant's appeal must be reversed because Appellant's alternative motion to vacate qualified as a motion to alter or amend a judgment within the meaning of section 25-1329. View "McEwen v. Nebraska State College System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision affirming the decision of the State Personnel Board dismissing Appellant's grievance challenging her termination as a teacher at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center, holding that the district court did not err in affirming the dismissal of Appellant's grievance. After the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) terminated Appellant's employment for cause Appellant completed a grievance form challenging her termination. Appellant initiated the grievance proceedings provided by the government collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The proceedings concluded with the Board dismissing Appellant's grievance appeals. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant waived the right to continue to pursue her grievance under the terms of the CBA, and therefore, the district court did not err in affirming the Board's dismissal of Appellant's grievance. View "Bower-Hansen v. Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the rulings of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court determining what constitutes the term “employer” under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-116 of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act, in imposing liability on CMR Construction & Roofing of Texas, LLC (CMR), and in finding that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Texas Mutual Insurance Co., holding that the court did not err. The compensation court concluded that CMR was a statutory employer under section 48-116, thus requiring CMR to compensate Juan Martinez for injuries he sustained while acting as an employee of a CMR subcontractor. The court further found that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Texas Mutual, a workers’ compensation insurance company domiciled and having its principal place of business in Texas. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the compensation court did not err in finding that CMR was the statutory employer of Martinez and in imposing liability; (2) the compensation court lacked personal jurisdiction over Texas Mutual; and (3) the court did not err in awarding Martinez attorney fees and future medical care and in determining that Martinez had sustained an eighty-percent loss of earning capacity. View "Martinez v. CMR Construction & Roofing of Texas, LLC" on Justia Law