Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for possessing methamphetamine and marijuana, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on her allegations of error. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the district court erred in overruling her motion to suppress, (2) the district court erred in overruling her motions seeking a competency evaluation, and (3) her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly overruled Defendant's motion to suppress; (2) there was no abuse of discretion in overruling Defendant's motions for a competency evaluation; and (3) the record affirmatively refuted Defendant's claim that trial counsel performed deficiently. View "State v. Lang" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in this partition action, holding that partition in kind cannot be decreed using owelty - or a monetary payment to equalize values - without great prejudice to the owners. On appeal, Appellant argued, among other things, that the district court erred in determining that it did not have authority to award owelty to make partition in kind equitable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) owelty is permitted in partition cases but should be rarely utilized and only when it is equitably necessary; and (2) the district court did not err in rejecting the owelty award and ordering partition by sale because Appellee met its burden to establish that partition in kind could not be had without great prejudice. View "FTR Farms, Inc. v. Rist Farm, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against Defendant, a law firm, holding that the district court correctly determined it lacked jurisdiction over the complaint. Defendant had represented Aspen Holding, Inc. when Aspen merged with and was acquired by Markel Corporation. As a representative of Aspen's former shareholders, Plaintiff brought suit seeking to obtain the Aspen attorney-client filed for the former shareholders' dispute with Markel over payments from the merger. The district court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, finding (1) Plaintiff failed to allege that Defendant had the requisite minimum contacts with the State, and therefore, the court did not have personal jurisdiction over Defendant; and (2) Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Plaintiff's motion regarding jurisdictional discovery; and (2) Plaintiff failed to establish a continuing substantial connection under the operative facts of the litigation to establish that Defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with Nebraska for the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction. View "Yeransian v. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of driving under the influence, holding that Defendant consented to a chemical test of his urine and, therefore, the results of the urine test were admissible. A law enforcement officer stopped Defendant for an expired registration. Based on his observations, the officer, a certified drug recognition evaluation expert, administered field sobriety tests. The officer concluded that Defendant was under the influence of marijuana arrested Defendant for driving under the influence and then took him to a detoxification center. Thereafter, a chemical test of Defendant's urine confirmed the presence of marijuana. On appeal, Defendant challenged the admission of the results of the urine test. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant voluntarily consented to the warrantless search of his urine, and therefore, the search fell within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement. View "State v. Degarmo" on Justia Law

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In this case where a judgment creditor sought to garnish the judgment debtor's bank account, which, at one time, contained funds both exempt and nonexempt from garnishment, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the county court finding that the bank account consisted solely of exempt funds, holding that funds exempt from garnishment remain exempt, even when commingled with nonexempt funds, so long as the source of exempt funds is reasonably traceable. Plaintiff obtained a judgment against Defendant and sought to garnish Defendant's bank account. The court ordered that the non-exempt funds in the account be transferred to the court. Defendant requested a hearing, asserting that the funds were exempt from garnishment because the only funds in the account were Social Security payments. Plaintiff stated that at one point the account held non-exempt funds commingled with the Social Security funds but that the non-exempt funds had been spent. The county court ruled that the funds were exempt. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant met his burden to prove that the remaining funds in his account constituted exempt Social Security funds. View "Schaefer Shapiro, LLP v. Ball" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law, Contracts
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The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the district court's order granting in part a writ of mandamus requiring Doug Brown, the sheriff of Furnas County, to provide records to Herchel Huff pursuant to the public records statutes, holding that the district court erred when it determined that Huff had shown that Brown had a clear duty to provide the requested records. Huff, an inmate, sought, among other documents, the criminal history records of jurors who had convicted hims. Furnas County sheriff Kurt Kapperman required a deposit of $750 before fulfilling the request. Huff subsequently filed a petition for writ of mandamus naming Kapperman as the defendant and seeking an order compelling Kapperman to release all requested documents. The court permitted Huff to substitute Brown, the current sheriff, in the caption of the case in place of Kapperman and granted in part mandamus. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) did not err when it substituted Brown's name for Kapperman's; but (2) erred in issuing mandamus because Huff failed to demonstrate a prima facie case that he had been denied a request for public records that the sheriff had a clear duty to provide under Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-712. View "Huff v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeals from orders of the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) that granted applications requesting changes to existing boundaries so that the applicants could receive advanced telecommunications services from another service provider in lieu of service from Appellant, holding that Appellant's notices of intention to appeal were not timely filed with the PSC. The PSC entered orders in both cases on July 10, 2018. Appellant subsequently submitted motions for rehearing requesting that the PSC reconsider its orders. Each motion was file stamped as having been received by the PSC on July 23. On August 21, the PSC entered orders denying the motions for rehearing. On September 13, in each case, Appellant filed a notice of intention to appeal with the PSC. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) based on the file stamps, the motions for rehearing were not filed within ten days of the effective date of the respective orders; (2) under Neb. Rev. Stat. 75-134.02, the motions did not suspend the time for filing a notice of intention to appeal; and (3) therefore, Appellant's notices of intention to appeal were filed beyond the thirty-day time limit allowed under section 75-136(2) to perfect appeals from the July 10 orders. View "In re Application No. C-4973 of Skrdlant" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals finding sufficient evidence to support modifying legal custody of the minor child in this case but not physical custody, holding that the court of appeals erred in finding that Father did not prove a material change in circumstances justifying modification of physical custody. Upon their divorce, Mother was awarded legal and physical custody of the child. The court later entered a modified decree awarding the parties joint legal and physical custody. Father then filed the instant complaint to modify, alleging that there had been a material change in circumstances warranting a change in the joint custody arrangement. After a trial, the court gave Father physical custody subject to Mother's parenting time and found it unnecessary to modify the parties' joint legal custody. The court of appeals found insufficient evidence to warrant modifying physical custody but sufficient evidence to modify legal custody. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Mother's continuous unemployment and chronic housing instability was a material change in circumstances that affected the child's best interests, and the district court's custody arrangement was in the child's best interests. View "Jones v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals dismissing Metro Area Transit's (Metro) appeal of the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity, holding that the court of appeals had jurisdiction pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902. The underlying claim was a subrogation action in which Great Northern Insurance Company sought compensation from Metro under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-901 et seq. Metro moved for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity. The district court denied the motion, and Metro appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction because the denial of a motion for summary judgment is interlocutory and not a final order. At issue was the amendment of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902, which added denials of summary judgment based on a claim of sovereign immunity to the definition of a final order. The statute was amended after the order denying summary judgment was entered but before the thirty-day period to file a timely appeal expired and before Metro filed its notice of appeal. The Supreme Court granted Metro's petition for further review and reversed, holding that the court of appeals had jurisdiction pursuant to the newly amended section 25-1902. View "Great Northern Insurance Co. v. Transit Authority of Omaha" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming Defendant's conviction and sentence for driving under the influence, holding that there was no error in the challenged rulings by the trial court. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court did not err by (1) affirming the county court's order denying Defendant's motion to suppress fruits of the stop; (2) affirming the county court's order that denied Defendant's motion to suppress the fruits of his arrest; (3) affirming the county court's order that denied Defendant's motion to suppress the results of the test of his breath alcohol content; (4) finding sufficient evidence to support the conviction; and (5) finding that Defendant's sentence was not excessive. View "State v. Montoya" on Justia Law