Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to Keating, O'Gara, Nebved & Peter, LLC (collectively, KONP) after finding that Plaintiff's defamation claim was not supported by evidence of actual malice or special damages and that certain statements attribution to KONP were absolutely privileged, holding that there was no error.In a vote, Bellevue Police Officers Association (BPOA) members expressed no confidence in Plaintiff, former chief of police for Bellevue. KNOP, a law firm representing BPOA and BPOA members, drafted a press release issued by BPOA addressing allegations of misconduct against Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit against KNOP alleging, among other claims, that he was defamed and placed in a false light by the press release. The district court granted summary judgment for KNOP. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in (1) admitting certain testimony; (2) finding that Plaintiff's false light claim was subsumed; (3) concluding that Plaintiff's civil conspiracy claim failed; and (4) finding that certain statements were absolutely privileged. View "Elbert v. Young" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment affirming the Nebraska Department of Revenue's denial of Gelco Fleet Trust's claim for a refund on sales tax it allegedly overpaid on the purchase price of a new vehicle, holding that there were no errors on the record.Gelco submitted a claim for refund of sales tax, which the Department denied. On appeal, the district court affirmed the Department's decision, determining that the Department properly included the disputed amount in the sales price and calculation of sales tax. The Supreme Court affirmed holding that the district court's determination conformed to the law, was supported by competent evidence, and was neither arbitrary capricious, nor unreasonable. View "Gelco Fleet Trust v. Neb. Dep't of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense, and driving during revocation, second offense, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assigned errors.After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of non-aggravated DUI and of driving during revocation and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The trial court further revoked Defendant's operator's license for a period of fifteen years following his release from incarceration. On appeal, Defendant alleged five instances of error, including the denial of his motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that Defendant's warrantless blood test was reasonable for purposes of the Fourth Amendment; (2) there was no error in the district court's challenged evidentiary rulings; (3) the evidence supported the convictions; and (4) Defendant's challenges to the sentences imposed were unavailing. View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the findings entered by the district court upon the court's determination that this case had been improperly reinstated after the district court voluntarily dismissed their case without prejudice, holding that the district court erred in dismissing this case.Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Defendants, asserting two counts of undue influence and one count of fraud in the inducement regarding the devise of certain real estate by the parties' mother. Plaintiffs later filed a voluntary dismissal of the action without prejudice. The trial court effectively treated the dismissal as a motion dismissing without prejudice then granted the motion. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion to vacate/reinstate, which the court sustained. The district court then dismissed the case based upon Plaintiffs' previously filed voluntary dismissal without prejudice. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, at the time Plaintiffs filed their voluntary dismissal, a final submission had occurred, divesting Plaintiffs of their statutory ability to voluntarily dismiss their case under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-601. View "Schaaf v. Schaaf" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the the district court revoking Defendant's probation and sentencing him to three years of imprisonment, holding that the district court plainly erred in failing to impose mandatory post-release supervision as part of Defendant's total sentence.Defendant pleaded no contest to two counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person and a third degree domestic assault. The district court sentenced Defendant to a thirty-month term of intensive supervised probation. Later, the State amended the motion to revoke probation. The district court revoked Defendant's probation but did not impose post-release supervision. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below and remanded the case with directions to modify the sentences, holding that the trial court committed plain error by failing to impose post-release supervision. View "State v. Roth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences resulting from his no contest pleas to charges of conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit burglary, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.The district court accepted Defendant's no contest pleas to conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit burglary and sentenced him to consecutive terms of imprisonment of twenty-six to thirty-two years for conspiracy to commit robbery and fourteen to twenty years for conspiracy to commit burglary. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not did abuse its discretion by placing undue weight on Defendant's criminal history or by failing to consider other relevant sentencing factors. View "State v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of first-degree sexual assault and his sentence of twenty-five to thirty years' imprisonment, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Defendant's convictions stemmed from his conduct of exploiting his position as K.G.'s Olympic trainer and sexually penetrating her through coercion and deception. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's conviction; (2) Defendant did not receive an excessive sentence; and (3) Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel either lacked merit or could not be addressed on the record. View "State v. Anders" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, vacated in part and reversed in part the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of North Star Mutual Insurance Company and against Old Mill Bulk Foods, holding that the district court erred by not granting summary judgment in favor of Old Mill.In July 2018 a fire destroyed the premises of a deli-grocery store. Old Mill elected to renovate another building in which to relocate is business and sought $159,879 under the "extra expense" provision of its insurance policy through North Star. North Star denied coverage and then filed this declaratory judgment to determine the parties' rights and obligations under the policy. The district court denied the extra expenses. The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) erred by not granting summary judgment in favor of Old Mill as to the claimed extra expenses; and (2) properly granted summary judgment with respect to the claim for a walk-in cooler. View "North Star Mutual Insurance Co. v. Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of second degree murder and his sentence of imprisonment for a term of seventy-one years to life, holding that the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to establish the corpus delicti of homicide beyond a reasonable doubt.Defendant, the last person known to have seen Tyler Thomas alive, was charged with first-degree murder in relation to Thomas' disappearance. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder. As his sole point on appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to establish the corpus delicti of homicide. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assigned error. View "State v. Keadle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment the district court denying postconviction relief sought by Defendant without conducting an evidentiary hearing, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's claims.Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death on each murder conviction. Defendant later filed what the district court referred to as his fifth postconviction motion, alleging (1) after the Legislature passed L.B. 268 abolishing the death penalty and when L.B. 268 was subsequently repeated by public referendum, his constitutional rights were violated; and (2) he was constitutionally ineligible for imposition of the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). The court summarily denied relief on both claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that Defendant's Atkins claim was both procedurally barred and time barred; and (2) Defendant's L.B. 268 claim was meritless. View "State v. Lotter" on Justia Law