Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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A court can consider an exception to the State’s waiver of immunity for tort claims under the State Tort Claims Act (STCA) sua sponte and for the first time on appeal. In so holding, the Supreme Court overruled Nebraska cases holding that an STCA exception is an affirmative defense that the State must plead and prove. Here, Defendant appealed the district court’s order dismissing his negligence claim under the STCA and his due process and Eighth Amendment claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed Defendant’s claims against Defendants - state officials and employees of the Nebraska Board of Parole and the Department of Correctional Services - concluding that all of Defendant’s claims were barred by sovereign immunity, qualified immunity, or pleading deficiencies. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the STCA exception for claims of false imprisonment applied, which exception barred Defendant’s tort claim under the doctrine of sovereign immunity; and (2) the district court did not err in ruling that Defendants were shielded from Defendant’s section 1983 action by absolute or qualified immunity. View "Davis v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the holding of the Court of Appeals reversing the decision of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court finding that Employee’s work-related injury was fully resolved within three days of the work accident and that Employee’s need for additional medical treatment was the result of a non-work-related injury. The Supreme Court held (1) there was sufficient competent evidence to support the Workers’ Compensation Court’s determination that Employee’s work-related injury was fully resolved prior to his subsequent fall; and (2) the Workers’ Compensation Court was not clearly wrong in finding that Employee did not meet his burden of proving that his subsequent injury was the result of his workplace accident. View "Hintz v. Farmers Cooperative Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court’s exclusion of untimely disclosed expert opinions regarding medical bills in order to enforce progression orders in an automobile negligence case. The court of appeals reversed the judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that the district court abused its discretion in excluding, as a discovery sanction, nearly all of Plaintiff’s medical bills, as well as testimony from Plaintiff’s expert witness that the bills were reasonable and necessary. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court did not need to apply the factors set forth in Norway v. Union Pacific Railroad, 407 N.W.2d 146 (Neb. 1987) to enforce its progression order; and (2) it was not an abuse of discretion to exclude evidence disclosed more than one year after the discovery deadline imposed by the court’s progression order. View "Putnam v. Scherbring" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiff, which operated commercial grain warehouses and elevators and owned trading businesses through Nebraska, filed a complaint alleging that several defendants engaged in a pattern of behavior with the intent to deprive it of information, an opportunity to be heard, and due process of law. The district court concluded that Defendants were entitled to immunity under Nebraska’s Consumer Protection Act and the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and that Plaintiff’s claims of conspiracy and aiding and abetting required an underlying tort to be actionable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because Defendants were entitled to immunity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and Plaintiff alleged only underlying statutory violations; and (2) any amendment to Plaintiff’s petition would be futile. View "Salem Grain Co. v. Consolidated Grain & Barge Co." on Justia Law

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Lori Greenwood was injured while working for J.J. Hooligans, LLC. Greenwood was informed that because of nonpayment, FirstComp Insurance Company (FirstComp) was not the workers’ compensation insurance carrier on the date of the accident. Greenwood filed a petition against J.J. Hooligan’s and FirstComp seeking workers’ compensation benefits. FirstComp filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it was not a proper party because it had timely notified J.J. Hooligan’s that it had terminated its insurance coverage for nonpayment of its premium and therefore did not provide workers’ compensation insurance on the date of the accident. The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court sustained the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that FirstComp failed to present sufficient competent evidence as to whether it complied with the employer notice of cancellation requirement in Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-144.03 to warrant an order of dismissal. View "Greenwood v. J.J. Hooligan’s, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a complaint against William McCoy using the pseudonyms “Jane Doe” and “John Doe.” Plaintiffs alleged that McCoy had sexually abused “Jane Doe” while she was a minor and that John Doe, who later married her, suffered a loss of consortium as a result of McCoy’s alleged sexual abuse of Jane Doe. The district court granted the motion to dismiss on the grounds that the action was time barred under the applicable statutes of limitations and that the complaint was not brought in the real names of the parties in interest. The Supreme Court affirmed on the basis that the action was barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. View "Doe v. McCoy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment for the County of Lancaster in this complaint filed by the City of Lincoln seeking reimbursement of expenses paid on its employee’s behalf after a deputy sheriff with the County made contact with the employee, injuring the employee’s shoulder. The district court concluded (1) the County’s procurement of liability insurance did not constitute a waiver of its sovereign immunity for claims less than the policy’s retained insurance limit; and (2) because the amount in controversy was $63,418, the County did not waive its sovereign immunity by obtaining insurance for claims exceeding $250,000. The Supreme Court affirmed for reasons different from those stated by the district court, holding (1) the County’s procurement of insurance did not constitute a waiver of immunity as to a claim arising out of a battery; and (2) therefore, the County’s policy did not cover the underlying event, and there was no waiver of immunity regardless of the retained insurance limit. View "City of Lincoln v. County of Lancaster" on Justia Law

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The personal representative of James McGauley’s estate brought a wrongful death action against Washington County for the death of McGauley, a quarry worker who was killed while operating a dump truck on a road being built up by Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. on behalf of the County. The district court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against the County, concluding that the discretionary function exception of the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA) applied, and therefore, the County had sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the County’s decision to allow Marietta to build up the road was a discretionary function not subject to the PSTCA. View "McGauley v. Washington County" on Justia Law

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Appellants Mary and Terry Cohan brought a medical malpractice action against Appellees alleging that Appellees’ negligent treatment caused Mary’s breast cancer to progress undiagnosed for one year, which led to Mary suffering damages from a shortened life expectancy and physical and mental suffering. Appellees moved for a directed verdict on the basis that Appellants failed to make a prima facie case of causation and damages against them. The district court granted the motion, concluding that there was no sufficient proof of damage or causation other than the loss of chance of a lower rate of non-recurrence, which did not constitute a proper measure of damage at the time. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded for a new trial, holding (1) this court declines to adopt the loss-of-chance doctrine; but (2) Appellants presented evidence that could have sustained a finding for Mary on the issue of damages under the traditional medical malpractice standard. View "Cohan v. Medical Imaging Consultants" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued the State and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (collectively, the State) after a state employee falsely told them that K.D.M. had no sexual abuse history and, upon K.D.M’s placement in Plaintiffs’ home, K.D.M. sexually assaulted their child. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the State was immune from suit because the employee consciously deceived Plaintiffs and the State Tort Claims Act “specifically excepts from its waiver of governmental immunity claims that are based on misrepresentation and deceit.” The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiffs’ claims arose out of the State employee’s misrepresentation, they were barred. View "Jill B. v. State" on Justia Law