Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Appellant's personal injury suit, albeit under different grounds for immunity than those relied upon by the district court, holding that the State had immunity from suit under the intentional tort exception.Terry Berry was fatally strangled by another prison inmate. Appellant, the personal representative of Berry's estate, filed this suit against the State alleging negligence and wrongful death on the part of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Berry's death was negligently caused by the State's violation of its duties and its formal regulations. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,219(4) barred Plaintiff's claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State had immunity under the intentional tort exception to the STCA, as set forth in section 81-8,219(4). View "Moser v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment against a real estate agency on its complaint against the seller and buyers of certain property for breach of an exclusive listing agreement and tortious interference with a contract, business relationship, or expectation, holding that summary judgment was properly granted.The sale of the property occurred after the listing period and after the protection period of the agreement, and no commission was paid. The negotiations for the sale were conducted directly between the seller and buyers, with the real estate agent's knowledge. The district court granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment. On appeal, the real estate agency argued that summary judgment was inappropriate because the district court held the summary judgment hearing before the real estate company had conducted depositions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not prematurely address Defendants' motions for summary judgment; and (2) the district court erred in awarding attorney fees. View "George Clift Enterprises, Inc. v. Oshkosh Feedyard Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of a convenience store in this personal injury action, holding that the convenience store was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.This action arose from an accident between a pickup truck and a pedestrian in the parking lot of the convenience store. The pedestrian sued the convenience store alleging that the accident was caused by a dangerous condition on the property. In granting summary judgment for the convenience store, the district court found that the driver's negligence was not reasonably foreseeable. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the convenience store's liability was governed by premises liability jurisprudence; and (2) the third element of the premises liability test could not be satisfied, and the pedestrian's claim against the convenience store failed as a matter of law. View "Sundermann v. Hy-Vee, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's claims for defamation and retaliation, holding that the district court did not err in instructing the jury and in applying Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-840.01 and directing a verdict in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's defamation claim.After Plaintiff's employment with Defendant was terminated Plaintiff filed a claim of retaliation under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1101 to -1126, and defamation. The district court granted a directed verdict for Defendant on the defamation claim, and a jury found Plaintiff failed to prove his retaliation claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not commit prejudicial error in (1) giving a jury instruction for retaliation that required Plaintiff to have opposed or refused to carry out a practice of Defendant that was unlawful; (2) giving a jury instruction on the business judgment rule; and (3) granting Defendant a directed verdict on the defamation claim. View "Haffke v. Signal 88, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a federal regulation does not impose a duty on insurers to issue policies that satisfy a motor carrier's minimum level of financial responsibility because compliance with the financial responsibility requirements under Neb. Rev. Stat. 75-363 and the pertinent federal regulations is the duty of the motor carrier and not its insurer.Through Neb. Rev. Stat. 75-363 the Nebraska Legislature adopted several parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and made those regulations applicable to certain intrastate motor carriers otherwise not subject to the federal regulations. One of the federal regulations adopted by section 75-363(3)(d) sets out minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether 49 C.F.R. 387 imposes a duty on an insurer to issue a policy with liability limits that satisfy the motor carrier's financial responsibility. The Supreme Court held that compliance with section 75-363 and section 387 is the responsibility of the motor carrier, not on the insurer. View "Shelter Insurance Co. v. Gomez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of BNSF Railway Co. on Plaintiff's negligence action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. 51 et seq., holding that the exclusion of some of Plaintiff's evidence did not unfairly prejudice Plaintiff.While working for BNSF, Plaintiff was injured when a forklift she was driving tipped over. The jury returned a verdict for BNSF on Plaintiff's negligence action. The district court accepted the verdict and entered judgment. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred when it excluded evidence of BNSF's admission that the forklift was overloaded and at risk for tipping. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's exclusion of testimonial evidence of BNSF's designee related to the company's post accident investigation did not unfairly prejudice Plaintiff's substantial right. View "Walker v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the Nebraska Worker's Compensation Court's awards for injuries suffered by Halina Picard in two separate accidents, holding that the court of appeals correctly found that the doctrine of apportionment did not apply but erred in affirming the award of benefits for Picard's 2015 accident and injury.In 2016, Picard filed claims against P & C Group 1, Inc. relating to industrial injuries she received in 2012 and 2015. The compensation court determined that Picard was entitled to an award for a whole body injury based on both injuries, that apportionment was not appropriate, and that Picard was entitled to attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed the awards for Picard's 2012 and 2015 injuries and reversed the attorney fees award. The Supreme Court reversed Picard's award of benefits for the 2015 injury, holding that the court of appeals (1) did not err in vacating Picard's attorney fees award; (2) did not err in finding that apportionment was inapplicable and determining that Picard's second injury award should not be apportioned with the first; and (3) erred in disregarding Picard's disability from the 2012 accident when assessing her lost earnings from the 2015 injury. View "Picard v. P & C Group 1, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this tort action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Lincoln Public Schools (LPS), holding that LPS was immune from suit under the discretionary function exception to the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-901 to 13-928.Plaintiffs, a mother and her minor child, filed this tort action seeking damages for injuries they received when they were bitten by a dog on a public school playground after students had been dismissed for the day. Plaintiffs alleged that LPS was negligent in failing to enforce the school's "no dogs" policy and in failing to supervise the playground area after classroom instruction ended. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of LPS, concluding that LPS had no legal duty and that Plaintiffs' claim was barred under the discretionary function exception to the PSTCA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that LPS was immune from Plaintiffs' claims under the discretionary function exception of the PSTCA. View "Lambert v. Lincoln Public Schools" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's lawsuit brought pursuant to the Nebraska State Tort Claims Act (STCA) based on a finding that Appellant failed to comply with the preset filing requirements of the STCA, holding that Appellant substantially complied with the STCA's requirements.Appellant, an inmate at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, filed a complaint against the State, alleging tort claims. The district court granted summary judgment for the State, concluding that Appellant failed to satisfy the claim presentment provisions of Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,212 with respect to his claimed damages. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the content of Appellant's tort claims substantially complied with the requirements of section 81-8,212, and therefore, the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the State. View "Saylor v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff's employer's insurance broker and insurer and dismissing Plaintiff's action claiming that the broker had a duty to advise the employer to obtain workers' compensation insurance and that the insurer had a duty to defend the employer in the underlying action, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff was injured in an accident during the course and scope of his employement. Plaintiff reached a settlement with his employer and received an assignment of rights against his employer's insurance broker and insurer. Plaintiff then brought this action. The district court concluded that both the broker and the insurer were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) applying case law applicable to insurance agents rather than insurance brokers; (2) finding that the broker fulfilled its duties as an insurance broker to the employer; and (3) finding that the insurer did not owe a duty to defend the insurer. View "Merrick v. Fischer, Rounds & Associates, Inc." on Justia Law