Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the Nebraska Real Estate License Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-885.01 to 81-885.55, barred Choice Homes, LLC's claims regarding a failed purchase agreement, holding that the district court did not err.Choice attempted to buy certain real estate from Owners in order to sell it to Buyers, but after the closing failed, Buyers purchased the property directly from Owners. Choice brought this action seeking damages related the purchase claims. Choice also asserted a defamation claim stemming from an online review posted by Buyers. The district court granted summary judgment against Choice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Act barred Choice's nondefamation claims; and (2) Choice was not defamed by the review at issue because it did not state or imply a false statement of fact. View "Choice Homes v. Donner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court granting Barbara Humphrey's motion for summary judgment as to partition of certain property and denying both parties' motions for summary judgment as to unjust enrichment, holding that the court erred in granting summary judgment as to Barbara's partition claim.Donald Humphrey and Edward Smith purchased a home together, and Donald paid a portion of the purchase price. The parties agreed this was to be a loan and memorialized their understanding in a loan agreement wherein they agreed that Donald would remove his name from the property's ownership when the loan was repaid. After Donald died, Barbara, his wife, brought a complaint for partition of the property, arguing that she and Smith were tenants in common. Smith counterclaimed for unjust enrichment, asserting that Donald forgave the remainder of the loan before he died, leaving Smith as the property's sole owner. The district court granted summary judgment for Barbara as to partition and denied summary judgment on all other claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Barbara on the issue of partition. View "Humphrey v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court that $18,000 in cash be forfeited to the State after finding that the State had shown by clear and convincing evidence that the cash was used or intended to be used to facilitate a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, holding that there was no error.On appeal, Christopher Bouldin, from whom the cash was seized by a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop, argued that the district court applied an incorrect standard of proof and that there was insufficient evidence to order the forfeiture. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court applied the standard of proof required by the governing statute; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the district court's finding that the $18,000 was subject to forfeiture. View "State v. $18,000" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Plaintiff did not qualify for an extended redemption period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1827 and that the tax certificate sale process at issue in this case did not violate Plaintiff's constitutional rights, holding that there was no error.Because Plaintiff did not pay her 2013 property taxes the Lancaster County treasurer to a private party. Three years later, the tax certificate holder applied for and obtained a tax deed to the property. Plaintiff subsequently brought this action seeking to quiet title to the property in her name, arguing that the issuance of the tax deed had violated her rights under the state and federal constitutions and that she had a statutory right to a five-year redemption period under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1827. The district court dismissed all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to the statutory extended redemption period or when it dismissed her constitutional claims. View "Nieveen v. TAX 106" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying a motion to vacate a decree of specific performance that also sought an order of joinder, holding the there was no error.Wilkinson Development, Inc. brought an action against Ford & Ford Investments for specific performance of a real estate contract concerning the purchase of commercial real estate. The district court granted Wilkinson's complaint for specific performance. PSK, LLC, a subsequent purchaser of the subject real estate, later filed the motion at issue on appeal seeking vacation of the degree and an order of joinder. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to any of PSK's assignments of error. View "Wilkinson Development, Inc. v. Ford & Ford Investments" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court affirming the county court's denial of Defendant's motion for a return of his seized firearm, holding that the lower courts erred.Law enforcement officers seized Defendant's shotgun incident to an arrest. Following his successful completion of probation, Defendant filed a motion in the county court to return his shotgun. The county court denied the motion and ordered that the firearm be destroyed. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State failed to meet its burden to show that Defendant's seized firearm was contraband or subject to forfeiture or that the government had some other continuing interest in the property. View "State v. Zimmer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Continental Resources in this quiet title action against Kevin and Terry Fair, holding that the district court did not err in granting Continental's summary judgment motion to quiet title.At issue on appeal was the constitutionality of the statute that authorize the process allowing the county in which a property is located to sell a tax certificate for the property to a private party if the property owner fails to pay property taxes. If the owner fails to pay the taxes owed after a period of time and the tax certificate purchaser complies with certain requirements, the purchaser can obtain a deed to the property free of encumbrances. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Nebraska's tax certificate sale statutes are not unconstitutional in the manner assigned by Fair. View "Continental Resources v. Fair" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed in part and affirmed in part the interlocutory appeal brought in this negligence action, holding that the district court did not err in denying summary judgment based on the discretionary function exemption and that this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction over the remainder of this appeal.Plaintiff landowners alleged that an employee of the Sargent Irrigation District (SID), a political subdivision in Custer County, negligently mixed and over applied an herbicide mixture, causing damage to Plaintiffs' corn crop. SID moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiffs' claims fell within the discretionary function or duty exception to the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-901 et seq. The court denied the motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court dismissed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying summary judgment based on the discretionary function exemption; and (2) the remainder of SID's assigned errors were not reviewable under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902(1)(d). View "Clark v. Sargent Irrigation District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellants' appeal from a decision of the Madison County Board of Commissioners for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction.At issue in this appeal was the Madison County Board of Commissioners' approval of the Elkhorn Valley Sportsman Club's application for a conditional use permit. Appellants appealed the Board's decision to the district court, which dismissed the appeal for failure to pay the docket fee. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellants' subsequent appeal, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing this appeal from the Board's determination for lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Kowalewski v. Madison County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court dismissing for lack of subject matter jurisdiction Main St Properties LLC's (MSP) complaint seeking to enjoin a zoning ordinance adopted by the city council for the City of Bellevue, holding that the court erred in dismissing MSP's complaint.After MSP received a notice of zoning violation MSP appealed to the board of adjustment, which upheld the zoning violation. While MSP's appeal was pending, the city council approved an ordinance to rezone MSP's property. MSP then filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the City. The district court granted the City's motion to dismiss, concluding that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because MSP failed to file a petition in error. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding that the complaint was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. View "Main St Properties LLC v. City of Bellevue" on Justia Law