Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment 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

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the Nebraska Worker's Compensation Court's awards for injuries suffered by Halina Picard in two separate accidents, holding that the court of appeals correctly found that the doctrine of apportionment did not apply but erred in affirming the award of benefits for Picard's 2015 accident and injury.In 2016, Picard filed claims against P & C Group 1, Inc. relating to industrial injuries she received in 2012 and 2015. The compensation court determined that Picard was entitled to an award for a whole body injury based on both injuries, that apportionment was not appropriate, and that Picard was entitled to attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed the awards for Picard's 2012 and 2015 injuries and reversed the attorney fees award. The Supreme Court reversed Picard's award of benefits for the 2015 injury, holding that the court of appeals (1) did not err in vacating Picard's attorney fees award; (2) did not err in finding that apportionment was inapplicable and determining that Picard's second injury award should not be apportioned with the first; and (3) erred in disregarding Picard's disability from the 2012 accident when assessing her lost earnings from the 2015 injury. View "Picard v. P & C Group 1, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Workers' Compensation Court (WCC) dismissing Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim against Ismael Huerta and LFA Inc. because Plaintiff failed to prove he was an employee of Huerta, holding that the WCC did not clearly err in its determination that Plaintiff was not an employee of Huerta.Plaintiff was working on a roofing job with Huerta when he slipped and fell from the roof. Plaintiff brought a claim against Huerta and LFA, claiming that Huerta was his employer and that Huerta and LFA conducted a scheme to avoid liability under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act. The WCC dismissed the action, finding that Plaintiff failed to carry his burden of demonstrating that he was Huerta's employee. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the WCC did not err in concluding that Plaintiff failed to prove his employee status. View "Aboytes-Mosqueda v. LFA Inc." on Justia Law

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In this workers' compensation case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Employee's motion for attorney fees for his counsel's appellate work, holding that the affidavit submitted by Employee's attorney sufficiently justified under Neb. Ct. R. App. P. 2-109(F) reasonable attorney fees to which Employee had a statutory right.Employee was awarded permanent total disability benefits. Employer appealed the award to the court of appeals, which affirmed the award in all respects. Employee then filed a motion for an award of reasonable attorney fees under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-125(4)(b) for the reason that Employer appealed the trial court's decision and there was no reduction in the amount of the award on appeal. Attached to the motion was the affidavit of Employee's counsel who worked on the appeal. The court of appeals denied the motion on the ground that the affidavit did not provide sufficient information to justify the reasonableness of the attorney fees sought. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the affidavit contained sufficient justification of the extent and value of the appellate attorney services to make a meaningful determination of the amount of "reasonable" attorney fees to which Employee was entitled. View "Sellers v. Reefer Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff's employer's insurance broker and insurer and dismissing Plaintiff's action claiming that the broker had a duty to advise the employer to obtain workers' compensation insurance and that the insurer had a duty to defend the employer in the underlying action, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff was injured in an accident during the course and scope of his employement. Plaintiff reached a settlement with his employer and received an assignment of rights against his employer's insurance broker and insurer. Plaintiff then brought this action. The district court concluded that both the broker and the insurer were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) applying case law applicable to insurance agents rather than insurance brokers; (2) finding that the broker fulfilled its duties as an insurance broker to the employer; and (3) finding that the insurer did not owe a duty to defend the insurer. View "Merrick v. Fischer, Rounds & Associates, Inc." on Justia 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