Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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Sanitary and Improvement District No. 1, Butler County, Nebraska (SID #1) filed two class action lawsuits in Cass County, Nebraska, alleging that various county treasurers unlawfully deducted an incorrect percentage of assessments of municipal improvements collected on behalf of SID #1 and other sanitary and improvement districts. The county treasurers filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court granted those motions, concluding that the sanitary and improvement districts are not municipal corporations and therefore do not create municipal improvements. SID #1 appealed. The Supreme Court consolidated the appeals and reversed, holding that SID #1 stated a cause of action because a sanitary and improvement district can levy municipal taxes and make municipal improvements. Remanded. View "Sanitary & Improvement Dist. No. 1 v. Adamy" on Justia Law

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Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD) distributes water and natural gas to businesses and residents in the Omaha metropolitan area. MUD contracts with Northern Natural Gas Company (Northern) to provide natural gas pipelines transportation services. In November 2012, MUD and Northern entered into an amendment to a contract providing that Northern would provide interstate natural gas transportation service to MUD for twenty years. Jason Bruno, an Omaha ratepayer and taxpayer who obtained gas and water services from MUD, sought a declaratory judgment that the 2012 amendment to the contract between MUD and Northern was void or voidable on the grounds that Neb. Rev. Stat. 14-2121 requires MUD to seek competitive bids for all contracts for work not performed by MUD employees. The district court determined that the statute does not require competitive bidding, but rather, grants MUD the discretion whether or not to go through the bidding process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly determined that there was no statutory competitive bidding requirement with respect to the contract at issue. View "Bruno v. Metro. Utils. Dist." on Justia Law

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Kelly and Paul Rosberg challenged the results of elections for seats on the Public Service Commission (PSC). The Rosbergs lost in the primaries to Gerald Vap and Rod Johnson, respectively. After the general election, the Rosbergs filed suit in the district court, claiming that Vap and Johnson were ineligible for the seats because both Vap and Johnson were not "in good standing" with their professions and were therefore ineligible for the seats. The district court rejected the Rosbergs' claims and granted summary judgment to Vap and Johnson. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the Legislature did not intend service on the PSC to be read as a profession for which one must be "in good standing according to the established standards of" that profession, the district court was correct in dismissing the Rosbergs' challenges. View "Rosberg v. Vap" on Justia Law

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The City of Minden filed an application to construct a subtransmission line with the Nebraska Power Review Board (Board). Southern Public Power District (Southern) objected to the application. The Board denied the application, finding that Minden's proposal was not the most economical and feasible means of supplying electrical services and also that its proposal would unnecessarily duplicate Southern's existing line. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was evidence to support the Board's decision that Southern could more economically and feasibly transmit Minden's necessary power; and (2) the record showed sufficient evidence to support the Board's decision that Minden's line would be unnecessarily duplicative of Southern's line, and that decision was not arbitrary or unreasonable. View "In re Application of Minden" on Justia Law

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A public power and irrigation district (District) filed an action against a development and other sublessees (collectively, Development) to quiet title to land owned by District and leased by Development. Development filed motions to dismiss the complaint, arguing that District's complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be grante. The district court sustained the motions and overruled Development's motion for attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in granting Development's motions to dismiss because (1) the allegations in District's complaint, taken as true, were plausible and thus were sufficient to suggest that District had presented a justiciable controversy, and (2) the motions to dismiss filed in this case provided no notice that Development was asserting the affirmative defenses of judicial estoppel, collateral estoppel and res judicata. Remanded. View "Central Neb. Pub. Power v. Jeffrey Lake Dev." on Justia Law