Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property 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 reversed the rulings of the district court on summary judgment invalidating a transfer-on-death (TOD) executed by Wife before her death naming Daughter as the designated beneficiary to her interest in a house titled solely in Wife's name and dismissing Daughter's counterclaim for slander of title, holding that the TOD deed was not invalid.Husband, who died during the course of these proceedings, brought this action alleging that he was the rightful owner of the house at issue because, in part, the TOD deed was invalid because "Nebraska deeds conveying an interest in real property held by a married person must be executed by both spouses." Daughter counterclaimed for slander of title. The court sustained Husband's motion for partial summary judgment, finding that the TOD deed was void as a matter of law for failing to satisfy Neb. Rev. Stat. 40-104. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) as a matter of law, section 40-104 does not apply to TOD deeds; and (2) the TOD in this case was not void, and Daughter counterclaim was no longer moot. View "Chambers v. Bringenberg" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Main St Properties LLC's (MSP) "Petition to Appeal Assessment of Bellevue Board of Equalization" for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 19-2422 authorized MSP's appeal of the resolution that levied a special assessment and placed a lien on MSP's property.MSP sought to appeal a City of Bellevue resolution that placed liens on property owned by MSP so as to collect costs that had been assessed for the demolition and removal of a structure on the property. In its petition, MSP argued that the resolution levied a "special assessment" pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 18-1722 and attempted its appeal under section 19-2422. The district court dismissed the appeal, determining that no special assessment was imposed and, therefore, section 19-2422 did not apply. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the City's resolution levied a special assessment against MSP under the authority of section 18-1722; and (2) therefore, section 19-2422 authorized MSP's appeal of the resolution. View "Main St Properties LLC v. City of Bellevue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court finding that Lola Urban had superior title to certain real estate and was entitled to have her son, Richard Urban, ejected from the property, holding that the district court erred.Francis and Lola Urban sold a quarter section of land to Richard by means of an installment land contract. Years later, Lola, as trustee of Francis' testamentary trust and as an individual, filed suit against Richard seeking to compel Richard to specifically perform his obligations under the contract. Lola requested that if Richard failed to pay the balance owed the property be foreclosed. Lola then amended her complaint to assert an alternative claim for ejection of Richard from the property. The district court found that Lola was barred from foreclosing on the property under the applicable statute of limitations but was entitled to have Richard ejected from the property. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute of limitations and the doctrine of adverse possession precluded the use of ejectment. View "Beckner v. Urban" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint seeking a declaration that Walnut Grove Hillside Condominium Regime No. 3, Inc. refused a reasonable accommodation under the federal Fair Housing Act and the Nebraska Fair Housing Act (collectively, FHA), holding that there was no error in the district court's decision.Plaintiff owned a condominium unit with the Walnut Grove subdivision. Plaintiff made a request to Walnut Grove to construct a fence through part of the common area behind her condominium for the purpose of allowing her daughter's emotional support dogs to safely spend time outside. Walnut Grove denied the request. Plaintiff then brought this complaint for declaratory judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proving that construction of the fence was necessary, and therefore, her claim for refusal of a reasonable accommodation under the FHA failed. View "Guenther v. Walnut Grove Hillside Condominium Regime No. 3, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this inverse condemnation action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the action on the pleadings, finding that the sanitary and improvement district (SID) lacked standing, holding that an SID is incapable of bringing an inverse condemnation action against the State.SID No. 67 of Sarpy County filed a petition for compensation in the county court for Sarpy County, claiming that the rerouting of access to the highway effected a damaging or taking of its property. The county court denied compensation. On review, SID 67 again alleged inverse condemnation. The district court dismissed the action on the pleadings for lack of standing, concluding that SID 67 was not a real party in interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that SID 67 was not a "person" having "private property" and thus did not have standing to bring an inverse condemnation action against the State. View "Sanitary & Improvement District No. 67 v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the orders of the district court finding that the City of Bellevue lacked authority to adopt an ordinance to annex Landowners' land, holding that the district court erred by finding that the annexation was invalid for the reasons it identified.Landowners filed separate complaints asserting that the City had exceeded its authority and powers granted to a city of the first class by Neb. Rev. Stat. 16-130 because the subject land was not adjacent to or contiguous with the existing City limits and was agricultural and rural in character. The two actions were consolidated, and the district court found in favor of Landowners. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by finding that Landowners' properties were rural in character and were neither contiguous nor adjacent to the City. View "Darling Ingredients Inc. v. City of Bellevue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment for the County of Sarpy and declaring two annexation ordinances and a zoning extension ordinance adopted by the City of Gretna invalid, holding that the ordinances were valid.In seeking to have the ordinances adopted by Gretna declared invalid, Sarpy County argued that Gretna exceeded its annexation authority under Neb. Rev. Stat. 17-407(2) because the annexed area included twenty-two parcels with agricultural land that was rural in character. The district court granted summary judgment for Sarpy County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the annexed area was urban, rather than rural, in character, and the ordinances were a lawful exercise of Gretna's annexation powers. View "County of Sarpy v. City of Gretna" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of a contractor (Contractor) against the homeowners' association (HOA) that hired it to perform repair work, holding that the district court did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court did not err in (1) finding that the HOA had waived, by one of the methods described in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1126, its right to a jury trial and in refusing to allow the HOA to withdraw its waiver; (2) concluding that the HOA had to present expert testimony to support its defense and counterclaims asserting that the repair work was done in an unworkmanlike manner; (3) excluding lay testimony of other contractors, in finding the HOA's expert witness lacked foundation for his opinions, and in excluding testimony relating to what the court found to be compromise negotiations; and (4) awarding prejudgment interest and attorney fees. View "McGill Restoration v. Lion Place Condominium Association" on Justia Law

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In this construction defect case brought by homeowners against several contractors, the Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court that the limitations period against each contractor began to run upon the substantial completion of each contractor's project.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the contractors in this case, generally agreeing that the limitations period for the homeowners' claims against the contractors began to run on the dates that each contractor substantially completed its work. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Homeowners' claims against the contractors were time barred as matter of law under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-223 and by denying their oral motion seeking leave to amend their complaint to add a new claim. View "McCaulley v. C L Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law