Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to vacate and the subsequent reinstatement of the sentences originally ordered, holding that the district court did not err by not addressing Defendant’s constitutional challenge. In this procedurally complex case, Defendant’s original sentences were reinstated by the district court, and Defendant’s motion to vacate his conviction for discharge of a firearm in certain cities, villages, and counties under Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-1212.04 on the grounds that the statute was unconstitutional on its face was denied. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to vacate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in failing to consider the merits of Defendant’s federal equal protection challenge on the basis of state procedural grounds. View "State v. Washington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the order of the county court finding Thomas Anderson individually liable to Grady Photography under two oral contracts, holding that there was no plain error in the determination that the contracts had been breached by Anderson and in holding him liable. Thomas Grady Photography, Inc. sued Amazing Vapor, Ltd., MCJC Companies, Inc., Manuel Calderon, and Thomas Anderson for breach of contract for failing to pay on two oral contracts for photography services. The county court entered a default judgment in favor of Grady Photography against Amazing Vapor, MCJC, and Calderon. Thereafter, after a trial, the county court found that Anderson, who appeared in his individual capacity as a director of Amazing Vapor, owed Grady Photography $2,400 under two oral contracts. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the proper result was result, although this Court’s reasoning was somewhat different from the lower courts. View "Thomas Grady Photography v. Amazing Vapor, Ltd." on Justia Law

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In this dispute in which an owner of one property sought to bind the purchaser of another property to the terms of a fifty-year lease agreement entered into between different parties, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the purchaser, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the statute of frauds barred the owner’s claim for breach of contract because there was no privity of contract and the purchaser did not expressly assume the lease; (2) equitable estoppel did not prevent the purchaser from raising the statute of frauds as a defense; and (3) there was no genuine issue of material fact, and therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the purchaser. View "Brick Development v. CNBT II" on Justia Law

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In this action for indemnification, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court awarding Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. the full amount of settlement payments in a lawsuit brought by employees of ConAgra Foods, Inc. against Jacobs arising from an explosion at a ConAgra plant, holding that the district court’s judgment was not in error. ConAgra contracted with Jacobs, an engineering firm, to provide engineering services. The engineering agreement contained mutual indemnification provisions. After the explosion at the ConAgra plant, dozens of employees sued Jacobs. Jacobs sought contractual indemnification from ConAgra, but ConAgra declined. Jacobs defended against and settled the claims then sued ConAgra for indemnification. The jury awarded Jacobs $108.9 million, and the court entered judgment on the verdict. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in finding that Jacobs had standing as the real party in interest; (2) the court did not err in finding ConAgra’s workers’ compensation immunity inapplicable; (3) Jacobs established that ConAgra’s refusal to indemnify breached the parties’ contract; and (4) the court did not err in declining to reduce the jury’s award of damages. View "Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. v. ConAgra Foods, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this action seeking to collect amounts Plaintiff claimed were due on personal guaranties, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering judgment on a jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff for the full amount sought, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in granting Plaintiff’s motion for a directed verdict on certain affirmative defenses raised by Defendants; (2) there was no error or abuse of discretion in the jury instructions or in the admission of evidence concerning Defendants’ personal finances; and (3) the district court did not err in failing to grant Defendants’ motion for new trial based on the directed verdict and the admission of financial statements. View "Lindsay International Sales & Service, LLC v. Wegener" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the declaration of the district court that the fair market value of Fred Assam’s ownership interest in the law firm of Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP (FPM) was $590,000. After Assam voluntarily withdrew from the firm, FPM filed this suit seeking a declaration of the parties’ rights under a governing partnership agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order declaring Assam’s interest in FPM to be $590,000 and that FPM should pay Assam that amount according to the terms of the agreement, holding that the district court did not err by (1) finding there was no conflict between District of Columbia and Nebraska substantive law governing the determination of Assam’s equity interest; (2) finding FPM did not breach the partnership agreement; (3) adopting the opinion of FPM’s expert in determining Assam’s equity interest; and (4) failing to award Assam a money judgment and attorney fees. View "Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP v. Assam" on Justia Law

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Millard Gutter Company’s voluntary dismissal of its civil action against American Family Insurance Company had no effect on the district court’s authority to make further rulings, but the court erred in taxing technology expenses and jury expenses as costs. After Millard Gutter filed a voluntary dismissal without prejudice, the district court entered a judgment of dismissal and taxed costs to Millard Gutter, including expenses incurred by American Family in setting up courtroom technology and expenses incurred by the court in compensation prospective jurors. On appeal, Millard Gutter argued that once it filed a voluntary dismissal, the district court lacked authority to make any further rulings and, alternatively, that the district court erred in taxing technology expenses and jury expenses as costs. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and in part reversed, holding (1) because Millard Gutter had no statutory right to voluntary dismissal at the time it filed its dismissal, the district court’s authority to make further rulings was unaffected by that filing; and (2) the district court abused its discretion in taxing such expenses as costs. View "Millard Gutter Co. v. American Family Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the district court in this declaratory judgment action (1) a contract between Ray Anderson, Inc. (Anderson) and Buck’s, Inc. to supply “BP-branded” motor fuel did not prevent Anderson from contracting with a competitor, Western Oil, Inc., to rebrand fuel sold at some of Anderson’s facilities; and (2) Buck’s held a unilateral right to terminate the fuel supply agreement. Anderson’s complaint requested the district court to declare that the contract did not prohibit Anderson from rebranding fuel sold at some of its stations and to determine that if Anderson sought to terminate the contract, it could do so upon reasonable notice. The district court rejected Anderson’s argument that it may terminate the contract upon reasonable notice but that Anderson had a right to rebrand. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in its judgment. View "Ray Anderson, Inc. v. Buck's, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this appeal from a default judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision denying Appellant’s motion for reconsideration or, in the alternative, to set aside the default judgment on the basis of several defenses. Appellee filed a breach of contract action against Appellant. When Appellant did not file a responsive pleading, the district court granted Appellee’s motion for default judgment. Appellant filed a motion for reconsideration or, in the alternative, to set aside the default judgment. In support of the motion to set aside, Appellant alleged several defenses, including lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. The district court overruled Appellant’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Appellant made a showing sufficient to warrant setting aside the default judgment because Appellant made prompt application to set aside the default and demonstrated at least one meritorious defense in support of its motion. View "Applied Underwriters Captive Risk Assurance Co., Inc. v. Oceanside Laundry, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the arbitration board finding that a discount to wholesale customers who renewed their contractual relationship with Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) was not discriminatory or an abuse of NPPD’s statutory rate-setting authority. Appellants were political subdivisions engaged in the distribution of electricity to retail electric customers and were wholesale customers of NPPD. Appellants brought this complaint after they elected not to renew their contractual relationship, alleging that the discount was discriminatory and that NPPD breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by charging them a different rate. The arbitration board determined that the discount was reasonable and nondiscriminatory and that NPPD did not breach the contract or the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that NPPD’s rate structure was fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory and that the rate structure did not constitute a breach of contract or the implied covenant of good faith. View "In re Application of Northeast Nebraska Public Power District" on Justia Law