Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court entering judgment for Defendants in this tort action filed by a pilot injured in an airplane crash. Patrick O’Brien, a pilot who was seriously injured when the plane he was flying crashed on approach to an airport, sued the aircraft’s designer and manufacturer and the designer and manufacturer or the aircraft’s pneumatic deicing system, asserting strict liability, negligence, and fraudulent misrepresentation claims. The jury returned a general verdict for Defendants. O’Brien appealed, assigning sixty-five claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to any of O’Brien’s assigned errors. View "O'Brien v. Cessna Aircraft Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order denying an intervener’s motion to intervene in her own behalf in this complaint alleging breach of a lease. Streck, Inc. filed a complaint against the Ryan Family, LLC alleging that the LLC breached a lease agreement containing an option to purchase real property and seeking specific performance. After the LLC responded, a member of the LLC moved to intervene in her own behalf and on behalf of the LLC. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the intervenor failed to allege a direct and legal interest sufficient to support intervention in the litigation between the LLC and Streck. View "Streck, Inc. v. Ryan Family, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this breach of contract action brought by Kelly Armstrong (Plaintiff), a former student at Clarkson College (Defendant), the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to set aside a jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $1 million or, in the alternative, for a new trial. Plaintiff was placed on probation and then administratively withdrawn from the school. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred by refusing to give Defendant’s requested jury instruction on Plaintiff’s alleged failure to fulfill a condition precedent by not exhausting the college’s grievance procedure. The Supreme Court agreed and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the district court committed reversible error in failing to instruct the jury on the issue of Plaintiff’s alleged failure to fulfill a condition precedent by not exhausting Defendant’s grievance procedure. View "Armstrong v. Clarkson College" on Justia Law

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The common-law rule in contracts that common-law rule that the release of one joint obligor on a promissory note operates to release all represents settled law in Nebraska and should have been applied by the district court in this case. Eric Cano brought this action against Michael Walker and Billy Claborn alleging that they had failed to pay amounts due on a promissory note, which imposed joint and several liability on Walker and Claborn. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Cano. The court entered judgment on the promissory note. Thereafter, without the consent of Walker, Cano and Claborn entered into a stipulation that operated as an unconditional release of Claborn once he satisfied the terms of the stipulation. Walker filed a motion to discharge the judgment premised on the common-law rule that “[t]he unconditional release of one of several makers of a joint and several promissory note, without the consent of the other makers thereof, operates as a release of all.” The district court overruled the motion for discharge. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with directions to grant the requested discharge, holding that, under the common-law rule, the unconditional release of Claborn from the judgment operated as a release of Walker. View "Cano v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s conclusion that, in this construction dispute, the express terms of a subcontract did not bind the subcontractor to the dispute resolution process within the general contract, and therefore, there was no arbitration agreement between the subcontractor and the project’s owner and general contractor. The Supreme Court held that the owner and general contractor’s motion to compel arbitration in the manner provided for in the general contract should have been sustained because the subcontract included a mutually agreed-to arbitration clause governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, and the subcontractor’s claims were governed by the clause. The court remanded with directions that the court stay the action and compel arbitration pursuant to the agreement. View "Frohberg Electric Co. v. Grossenburg Implement, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ breach of contract against Defendant but on different grounds than those found by the district court. The district court dismissed the action for lack of personal jurisdiction over Defendant under Nebraska’s long-arm statute and alternatively found that Nebraska was an inconvenient forum. Defendant was a New York corporation with its principal place of business in New York. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiffs’ claim that Defendant failed to pay amounts due under a promissory note was moot; and (2) Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the claim for breach of the reinsurance participation agreement (RPA), which Defendant was alleged to have breached, because Plaintiffs were not parties to the RPA. View "Applied Underwriters, Inc. v. S.E.B. Services of New York, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2000, doctors Strohmyer, Naegele, and Mantler formed Papillion Family Medicine, P.C. (PFM). In 2013, Strohmyer provided notice that he was leaving PFM to start his own medical practice. Strohmyer then sued PFM, Naegele, and Mantler (collectively, Defendants), alleging that Defendants failed to “buy out” Strohmyer and pay associated director fees following his departure and improperly calculated the value of PFM’s stock, assets, and goodwill. Defendants counterclaimed. The district court found (1) PFM was not a corporation under the laws of Nebraska; (2) the buyout clause was so ambiguous as to be unenforceable; (3) the value of Strohmyer’s stock was $104,200; (4) Strohmyer was due $9,389 in unpaid compensation; and (5) Strohmyer damaged PFM in the amount of $30,673. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the district court (1) did not err in its valuation of Strohmyer’s shares, finding that PFM had no goodwill for which Strohmyer was entitled to compensation, and failing to award compensation for director fees and salary; but (2) erred in finding that Strohmyer breached a fiduciary duty by continuing to accept Medicaid patients, in holding Strohmyer liable for a physical assistant’s continuing treatment of Medicaid patients, and in its calculation of damages based on those claims. View "Strohmyer v. Papillion Family Medicine" on Justia Law

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In this dispute arising from a party’s failure to perform on a promissory note Steven Anderson filed a complaint against Steve Finkle alleging breach of contract and quantum meruit or unjust enrichment. After trial but before the trial court issued its order, Anderson died. Thereafter, the district court issued an order awarding Anderson the amount of the promissory note plus interest. Finkle filed a motion for new trial and then the estate filed a motion for revivor. The district court overruled Finkle’s motion and granted the estate’s motion reviving the matter in the name of the personal representative of the estate. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals in both cases, holding (1) because of Anderson’s death, the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter judgment and deny Finkle’s motion for new trial, and therefore these orders were void, and Finkle’s first appeal did not divest the district court of its jurisdiction; and (2) this court was without jurisdiction to entertain Finkle’s appeal of the order of revivor because it was not a final order. View "Anderson v. Finkle" on Justia Law

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Janice M. Hinrichsen, Inc. (JMH) had a judgment against Risk Assessment and Management, Inc. (RAM) in a previous action. In the instant action brought under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA), JMH alleged that RAM had fraudulently transferred certain assets to Messersmith Ventures, LLC. The district court entered judgment in favor of JMH in the amount of $250. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court did not err when it implicitly found that, under the UFTA, a fraudulent transfer of assets had occurred; and (2) the monetary judgment awarded by the district court was not appropriate relief under the UFTA in this case, as the court instead should have ordered that MJH may levy execution on the assets that were transferred to Messersmith Ventures or the proceeds of such assets. View "Janice M. Hinrichsen Inc. v. Messersmith Ventures, LLC" on Justia Law

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Seller agreed to sell an aerial spraying company to Buyer pursuant to a purchase agreement that contained a covenant not to compete. Seller, his son, and the company (collectively, Seller) subsequently filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the covenant not to compete was overbroad and unenforceable. Buyer counterclaimed. After a trial, the district court found that the noncompete agreement was void and unenforceable. The court did not address Buyer’s counterclaims. Buyer appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. After the cause was remanded, the parties filed a stipulated motion to dismiss without prejudice, jointly requesting dismissal of Buyer’s breach-of-contract counterclaims and Seller’s motion for damages and attorney fees. The district court entered an order of dismissal without prejudice that largely mirrored the language of the parties’ stipulated motion. Buyer then appealed the declaratory judgment ruling. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order appealed from was not a final order, and the Court therefore lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal. View "Last Pass Aviation, Inc. v. Western Cooperative Co." on Justia Law