Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics
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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of defendant-doctors after granting a motion to strike Plaintiff's expert witness, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff brought this action individually and on behalf of her minor daughter alleging negligence during the child's birth. After dismissing one defendant by operation of law and entering an order striking Plaintiff's expert witness the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court's decision to strike the expert witness was not an abuse of discretion; and (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to Defendants. View "Carrizales v. Creighton St. Joseph" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' legal malpractice action on the grounds that Defendants did not breach any duty of care to Plaintiffs, holding that the district court did not err.In 2017, Plaintiffs, various liquor stores in Whiteclay, sought to renew multiple liquor licenses, but when the cause was appealed, the Supreme Court determined that it did not have jurisdiction. Plaintiffs then brought this action against their counsel, alleging legal malpractice. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that, as a matter of law, Defendants did not breach the applicable standard of care. View "Kozal v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Christopher Gillis and dismissing the claim brought by Lori and Robert Bogue that, as a result of negligence during a surgical procedure, Lori suffered injuries, holding that there was no error.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Gillis on statute of limitations grounds, thus rejecting the Bogues' argument that under the continuous treatment doctrine the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the conclusion of Gillis' treatment of Lori approximately one year after the date of the surgery. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that the statute of limitations began to run on the date of the surgery. View "Bogue v. Gills" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing this lawsuit on the grounds that Defendants were not timely served, holding that a defendant's filing of an "Appearance of Counsel" does not constitute a voluntary appearance that relieves a plaintiff of the ordinary obligation to serve the defendant with the lawsuit.Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants alleging that Defendants provided Plaintiff with incorrect information regarding the income tax consequences of a sale of land. Attorneys for Defendants filed a document entitled "Appearance of Counsel," after which there was no activity in the case for nearly a year. The district court dismissed the case on the grounds that Plaintiff had not timely served Defendants. Plaintiff filed a motion to reinstate the case, asserting that the Appearance of Counsel was equivalent to service under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-516.01(1). The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appearance of Counsel was not a voluntary appearance and that Defendants were not timely served. View "Stone Land & Livestock Co. v. HBE, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the sanction imposed upon Thomas B. Whittle, M.D. for committing acts of unprofessional conduct, holding that none of Whittle's claims on appeal had merit.The State brought disciplinary charges against Whittle on the grounds that he practiced medicine in a pattern of incompetence and negligence and that his conduct was unprofessional. The Division of Public Health for the Department of Health and Human Services suspended Whittle's license to practice medicine for six months after holding a hearing. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Department possessed authority under Neb. Rev. Stat. 38-179(15) to define acts of unprofessional conduct, and Neb. Rev. Stat. 010.02(32) did not impermissibly modify, alter, or enlarge portions of its enabling statute; (2) the evidence supported the district court's conclusion that Whittle's actions warranted the discipline imposed; and (3) Whittle's remaining claims were without merit. View "Whittle v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this legal malpractice action as time barred, holding that the court did not err in ruling that the continuing representation exception to the two-year statute of limitations in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-222 did not apply and granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment.Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Defendants setting forth claims of professional negligence relating to Defendants' representation of Plaintiffs in a personal injury action. The district court dismissed the action with prejudice, concluding that the continuous representation doctrine did not toll the accrual of the action and that the action was time barred because Plaintiffs filed their claim more than one year after discovery of the alleged negligent act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it dismissed the complaint as untimely. View "Dondlinger v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on the ground that Plaintiff's cause of action was time barred by the statute of limitations for professional negligence under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-222, holding that the district court erred in concluding that a massage therapist is a professional under section 25-222 and in granting summary judgment on that ground.Plaintiff, a customer of Defendant, a massage therapy establishment, alleged that Defendant's employee, a licensed massage therapist, improperly compressed a nerve on Plaintiff's neck, causing her to become unconscious, fall out of the massage chair, and sustain injuries. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant, alleging that her injuries were caused by Defendant's negligence as the massage therapist's employer. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Plaintiff's claim was time barred by the application of section 25-222. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by finding that massage therapy is a "profession" within the meaning of section 25-222. The Supreme Court remanded the cause to the district court. View "Wehrer v. Dynamic Life Therapy & Wellness, P.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court in favor of Terrance Poppe in this legal malpractice action, holding that there was no merit to this appeal.Poppe represented Brenda Rice from Dale Rice. Thereafter, Rice filed this malpractice action against Poppe, alleging that Poppe did not advise her that a property settlement agreement waived her interest in Dale’s life insurance policies. The district court granted summary judgment for Poppe. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. After a bench trial, the district court found in favor of Poppe. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that Poppe did not breach any duty owed to Rice and, even assuming a breach of duty, that Rice could not show that Poppe’s actions were the proximate cause of her injury. View "Rice v. Poppe" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, a tax attorney and the accounting firm for which he worked, in this malpractice action, holding that Plaintiffs’ claims claims were barred by the statute of limitations.Plaintiffs, a dentist and his professional corporation, brought this suit alleging six acts of legal and accounting malpractice. The district court granted summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that the claims were barred by the statute of limitations set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-222. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Plaintiffs’ action was barred by section 25-222. View "Colwell v. Mullen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s partial granting of Defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and modified the jury award in this case alleging legal malpractice and fraudulent misrepresentation.Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Steven Howard and his law firm alleging that Howard committed legal malpractice. The jury found in favor of Plaintiffs and awarded damages in the amount of $775,000. After trial, the district court partially granted Defendants’ JNOV motion, reducing the damages to $235,968.78. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) the trial court did not err in reducing the jury’s award of damages, but the jury award is modified to $350,000; (2) the trial court did not err in overruling Plaintiffs’ postverdict motion for sanctions; and (3) the trial court did not err in failing to dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint for want of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis that the action was not brought by the real party in interest. View "LeRette v. Howard" on Justia Law