Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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Norman Kroemer, an employee of Ribbon Weld, LLC sustained an eye injury in connection with the use of Omaha Track Equipment, LLC’s (OTE) tools. Kroemer and Ribbon Weld entered into a compromise lump-sum settlement for $80,000. After payment of the lump sum, Ribbon Weld’s subrogation interest totaled just over $200,000. Kroemer then sued OTE and Ribbon Weld. Kroemer and OTE engaged in mediation to settle the third-party claim and ultimately negotiated a compromise settlement of claims in the amount of $150,000. The district court determined that the settlement was reasonable and allocated $0 to Ribbon Weld. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and in part reversed and remanded, holding (1) the district court’s approval of the settlement was not an abuse of discretion under the circumstances; but (2) the district court did abuse its discretion in not allocating any of the settlement proceeds to Ribbon Weld. View "Kroemer v. Omaha Track Equipment, LLC" on Justia Law

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ACI Worldwide Corp. sued Baldwin Hackett & Meeks, Inc., its cofounders, and other company principals (collectively, BHMI), alleging that BHMI misappropriated its trade secrets. BHMI counterclaimed, alleging that ACI tortiously interfered with a business relationship and violated provisions of Nbraska’s unlawful restraint of trade statutes. In 2014, a jury found against ACI on its misappropriation claim. In 2015, a jury found in favor of BHMI on all of its counterclaims. ACI then filed posttrial motions to vacate the jury’s judgments, reopen the evidence, and grant a new trial on the basis that ACI had discovered new evidence. The district court overruled ACI’s posttrial motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in overruling ACI’s motion to vacate the 2014 and 2015 judgments; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in awarding BHMI $2,732,962.50 in attorney fees. View "ACI Worldwide Corp. v. Baldwin Hackett & Meeks, Inc." on Justia Law

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While Tyler Thomas and Joshua Keadle were both students at Peru State College, Keadle allegedly abducted, raped, and murdered Thomas. Appellants filed a fifth amended complaint against the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State Colleges under the State Tort Claims Act, seeking damages for the wrongful death of Thomas, for Thomas’ pain and suffering prior to her death, and for the severe emotional distress of Appellants as Thomas’ parents and next of kin. The causes of action were premised upon the Board’s alleged negligence. The district court granted summary judgment for the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the risk of Keadle’s alleged abduction, rape, and murder of Thomas was not foreseeable as a matter of law. View "Thomas v. Board of Trustees of Nebraska State Colleges" on Justia Law

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Homeowners obtained loans from Bank for the construction of a new home and entered into an agreement with Contractor to complete the new home construction. When Homeowners defaulted on payments owed to Contractor and on both loans, the house was sold at foreclosure, and Homeowners filed for bankruptcy. Contractor filed a fourth amended complaint against Homeowners, who were later dismissed as parties, and Bank. Following a trial the court granted summary judgment for Bank on Contractor’s claims of fraud and civil conspiracy. The Supreme Court reversed. After remand, Contractor filed a fifth amended complaint, which differed from the fourth amended complaint in several respects. The district court determined that the election of remedies doctrine and judicial estoppel required a dismissal of Contractor’s claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Contractor’s claims were consistently premised on the existence of a contract, and therefore, no election was required; and (2) Contractor’s claims were based on different facts and obligations, and therefore, both could be pursued. View "deNourie & Yost Homes, LLC v. Frost" on Justia Law

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On March 9, 2013, Stephen Kelly suffered a fall from his home. Stephen was treated at Saint Francis Medical Center by Dr. Jeff Burwell. Stephen died on March 16. On March 10, 2015, Ann Kelly filed, on her own behalf and on behalf of Stephen’s estate, a pro se wrongful death action against Saint Francis and Burwell. On September 1, 2015, Ann filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Ann retained counsel for her amended complaint.The district court denied Ann’s motion and dismissed the action as untimely, concluding that the original complaint filed by Ann was a nullity and that an amended complaint cannot relate back to something that never existed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that the prior complaint was a nullity and that an amended complaint could not relate back to the filing of the original pro se complaint. View "Kelly v. Saint Francis Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Raven Addy-Cruz was killed in an automobile accident caused by Lyle Carman. Carman was employed by Lopez Trucking. Lopez Trucking had been hired by Werner Construction (Werner) to haul debris from a construction site. Addy-Cruz’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against Carman, the owner of Lopez Trucking (Lopez), and Werner. Summary judgment was entered in favor of Werner. The estate, Carman, and Lopez then entered a joint stipulation to dismiss without prejudice. Thereafter, the estate filed a notice of appeal from the order sustaining summary judgment in favor of Werner. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the estate’s voluntary dismissal of the cause of action without prejudice did not create a final order from which an appeal could be brought. View "Addy v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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Bruce Evertson was killed in a two-vehicle accident during the course and scope of his employment. Bruce’s estate filed a wrongful death claim against the insurer of the other driver. The county court accepted a settlement in the matter and allocated the proceeds among Bruce’s widow, Darla Evertson, and adult children. Darla received workers’ compensation benefits from Travelers Indemnity Company as a result of Bruce’s death. Travelers filed a subrogation claim to Darla’s settlement proceeds. The county court ordered that Travelers was not entitled to any distribution of Darla’s proceeds and did not provide Travelers any future credit against the workers’ compensation benefits it owed Darla. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and remanded with directions to vacate the order of the county court, holding that the county court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear and decide the subrogation matter. View "In re Estate of Evertson" on Justia Law

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Still images from a video of Plaintiff conducting a legitimate transaction at an ATM were placed on the Lincoln-Lancaster County Crime Stoppers (Crime Stoppers) Web site with text stating that Plaintiff had used someone’s stolen credit card. Plaintiff sued the Crime Stoppers and the City of Lincoln, alleging that the postings on the Web site constituted libel, slander, and defamation and that Plaintiff’s right to privacy was violated because the postings placed her in a false light. After a jury trial, the district court found in Plaintiff’s favor and awarded her injunctive relief and damages in the amount of $259,217. The City appealed. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the district court’s findings that the communication was not made pursuant to a qualified privilege and that Plaintiff was entitled to both general and special damages; (2) affirmed the district court’s monetary award; but (3) vacated the district court’s award of injuctive relief because such relief was not requested in Plaintiff’s complaint. View "Funk v. Lincoln-Lancaster County Crime Stoppers" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Wilmer Interiano-Lopez was living in Sioux City, Iowa, and working for Tyson at a meatpacking plant in Dakota City, Nebraska. One of his jobs involved cutting the stomach or “paunch” of cows to allow the contents to fall out as they were processed on the “dump paunch line.” One day, Interiano-Lopez was working with a trainee who was hanging meat incorrectly and it was falling off the hooks as it passed down the dump paunch line. Interiano-Lopez had to lift and place the meat back on the hooks to complete his work, and his hands and arms became increasingly fatigued. At one point, a paunch fell from the hook and hit Interiano-Lopez on the right shoulder. He felt a pop in his shoulder and began experiencing severe pain and loss of strength in his arm. Interiano-Lopez was taken to the plant infirmary and thereafter to a hospital emergency room. He was diagnosed with a shoulder separation and was referred for orthopedic evaluation and treatment. In March 2014, Interiano-Lopez, through counsel, filed a petition in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court seeking a determination of the rights and liabilities of the parties regarding the dump paunch line. Interiano-Lopez sought to be declared permanently and totally disabled or, in the alternative, to be awarded temporary total disability benefits, ongoing medical benefits, and vocational rehabilitation training. Tyson answered, including what it characterized as a counterclaim. Tyson denied liability, alleged Interiano-Lopez’ physical problems were caused by a preexisting condition, and alleged Interiano-Lopez had “received some workers’ compensation benefits for which [Tyson] is entitled to a credit.” The compensation court dismissed the petition but proceeded to trial on Tyson’s counterclaim and found Interiano-Lopez had failed to prove a workplace injury. Interiano-Lopez appealed. Because the Supreme Court concluded the compensation court acted without authority and in excess of its powers by proceeding to trial rather than dismissing the cause, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court and remanded the case with directions to dismiss. View "Interiano-Lopez v. Tyson Fresh Meats" on Justia Law

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Lawrence Bixenmann tripped and fell on a stake that the owner of Dickinson Land Surveyors (Dickinson) had placed on the property of Lawrence and Norma Bixenmann while performing a land survey. The Bixenmanns brought this negligence action against Dickinson. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Dickinson, concluding that the Bixenmanns were required to present expert testimony as to the standard of care required of surveyors and that the “common knowledge” exception to the requirement of expert testimony did not apply. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on a different ground, holding that there was no privity of contract between the Bixenmanns and Dickinson and no facts establishing a duty to the Bixenmanns, and therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Dickinson. View "Bixenmann v. Dickinson Land Surveyors, Inc." on Justia Law