Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal from the district court's denial of Appellant's motion requesting that the court vacate its order dismissing Appellant's petition for renewal of a domestic abuse protection order, holding that this Court does not have jurisdiction to review the denial of such a motion. On appeal, Appellant conceded that because her notice of appeal was filed more than thirty days after the initial order dismissing the petition and because her motion to vacate did not suspend or extend the deadline for filing an appeal, her appeal of the order dismissing her petition was not timely. Nonetheless, Appellant argued that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to review the order denying her motion to vacate by other means. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that where Appellant's motion to vacate merely asserted that the order she sought to vacate was erroneous, the order was was not appealable. View "Green v. Seiffert" on Justia Law

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In this action challenging an investigatory subpoena issued during the 105th Nebraska Legislature the Supreme Court dismissed this appeal as moot, holding that the subpoena expired at the commencement of the 106th Nebraska Legislature, and therefore, this Court could not grant the relief sought. The subpoena in question was issued during the 105 Legislature by the Judiciary Committee of the Nebraska Legislature with the approval of the Executive Committee of the 105th Legislature and commanded the attendance of the director of the Department of Correctional Services to testify at a committee hearing. Before the hearing, the State and the director of the Department (collectively, the Department) sued the senators who were on the Judiciary Committee and the Executive Board of the Legislative Council when the subpoena was issued and the Clerk of the Legislature who signed the subpoena, alleging that the subpoena was not in the discharge of any legal duty. The district court granted the Department's motion to quash the subpoena. The Senators appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that because the subpoena was issued by a committee of the Legislature which not longer exists, there is no longer a case and controversy as required for the exercise of the Court's judicial power. View "State ex rel. Peterson v. Ebke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals summarily dismissing this appeal, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1329 applies to a district court's judgment disposing of a petition in error and overruling several previous decision to the extent that they held section 25-1329 inapplicable to judgments of a district court acting as an intermediate appellate court. Appellant filed a petition in error in the district court against Defendant, alleging that he was wrongfully terminated. The district court overruled the petition. Ten days later, Appellant moved for a new trial or, in the alternative, for an order vacating the judgment. The district court overruled the motion and the alternative motion. Thirty days afterward, Appellant filed a notice of appeal. The court of appeals summarily dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that it was untimely filed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 25-1329 does not apply to a judgment of a district court acting as an intermediate appellate court; and (2) in the instant case, the summary dismissal of Appellant's appeal must be reversed because Appellant's alternative motion to vacate qualified as a motion to alter or amend a judgment within the meaning of section 25-1329. View "McEwen v. Nebraska State College System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part the district court's denial of Defendants’ request for attorney fees and dismissed in part Defendants’ appeal from orders vacating summary judgment in favor of Defendants and overruling Defendants’ subsequent motion for summary judgment, holding that Defendants did not qualify as prevailing parties and that this Court lacked jurisdiction to review the summary judgment orders. The State brought claims against Defendants under Nebraska’s Consumer Protection Act, Neb. Rev. Sat. 59-1601 et seq., and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 87-301 et seq. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants and then later vacated its order of summary judgment. Defendants moved again for summary judgment, which the district court denied. After years of litigation, the State voluntarily dismissed the claims. The district court denied Defendants’ request for attorney fees, finding that the State’s voluntary dismissal did not make Defendants prevailing parties or purposes of section 59-1608(1). The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to review Defendants’ claim that the district court’s summary judgment orders were erroneous and that the district court did not err in denying Defendants’ motion for attorney fees. View "State ex rel. Peterson v. Creative Community Promotions, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant’s appeal from a condemnation of Appellant’s land by the City of Papillion, Nebraska for lack of jurisdiction but affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion for sanctions, holding that it was error to dismiss the condemnation action appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The City condemned land owned by Appellant. Following nearly five years and one judicial recusal, the district court dismissed Appellant’s condemnation appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The court also denied Appellant’s motion for sanctions asserting that the City’s motion for summary judgment was legally frivolous. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court incorrectly concluded that it lacked jurisdiction under the circumstances of this case; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for sanctions. View "Pinnacle Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Papillion" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing eight inmates' declaratory judgment action for failure to state a claim, holding that the inmates had other equally serviceable remedies available. Plaintiffs, eight death row inmates, filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that 2015 Neb. Laws, L.B. 268, which abolished the death penalty in Nebraska, was not repealed by referendum and also sought injunctive relief preventing the Department of Correctional Services and its director from carrying out executions against Plaintiffs or indispensable parties. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Plaintiffs had equally serviceable remedies. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Plaintiffs could not maintain a declaratory judgment claim because they had other equally serviceable remedies. View "Sandoval v. Ricketts" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated in part the judgment of the district court overruling Plaintiff’s motion to recuse and granting summary judgment to Defendants on all of Plaintiff’s remaining claims, holding that the judge should have recused himself. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant, her former employer, claiming retaliation, hostile work environment, and other claims. The district court granted summary judgment on the latter three claims. Defendant then moved for summary judgment on the retaliation and hostile work environment claims. When the district court judge assigned to the case became aware that his brother-in-law was a potential witness Plaintiff moved for recusal. Plaintiff then amended her complaint and added a claim under the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. 206(d). The district court overruled the motion to recuse and granted summary judgment on the remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed to the extent of the claims disposed of before the assertion of the Equal Pay Act claim and vacated as to all other claims, holding that because the judge’s brother-in-law was likely to be a material witness, Neb. Rev. Stat. 5-302.11(A)(2)(d) mandated disqualification of the judge. View "Thompson v. Millard Public School District No. 17" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal after the district court administratively dismissed a negligence action for failure to timely submit a proposed scheduling order and then granted a motion to reinstate the case, holding that the district court’s reinstatement order was not a final, appealable order. On appeal, Appellants argued that the district erred when it applied the local rules regarding reinstatement of cases instead of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-201.01 to decide whether to reinstate the case. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order vacating dismissal and reinstating the case put the parties back in approximately the same litigation posture as before the action was dismissed, and there was no reason to disrupt the progression of the case by entertaining an interlocutory appeal. View "Fidler v. Life Care Centers of America" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Court of Appeals denying Paul Gerber’s motion seeking to recover attorney fees from P & L Finance Co., Inc., holding that, while the pleading was styled as a “Motion for Attorney Fees,” Gerber’s request for attorney fees was, in substance, an application under Neb. Rev. Stat. 21-2,114 for an order of indemnification from P & L. In his filing, Gerber sought an order requiring P & L to indemnify him for attorney fees he incurred in the appeal of a case where he was made a party because he was a director of P & L. In denying the request, the Court of Appeals stated that there was no course of practice in the appellate courts that recognizes the recovery of attorney fees from a non-adverse party. The Supreme Court remanded the matter to the Court of Appeals with directions to consider Gerber’s filing consistent with section 21-2,114 as an application for an order of indemnification against P & L, holding that the appellate court should have considered the filing as an application for indemnification. View "Gerber v. P & L Finance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal brought from an order of the district court extending a harassment protection order for one year as moot but applied the public interest exception to mootness to address whether a respondent against whom a harassment protection order is sought must appear in person rather than through counsel. During a show cause hearing, the district court concluded that because Respondent appeared through counsel rather than appearing in person, the ex parte harassment protection order against him would automatically be extended for one year. The court allowed Petitioner to testify and allowed Respondent’s counsel to cross-examine Petitioner. The court then found that Petitioner had presented evidence sufficient to extend the harassment protection order for one year to expire on October 5, 2018. The Supreme Court held (1) Respondent’s appeal from the harassment protection order was moot; and (2) through a plain reading of Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-311.09(8)(b), a respondent is entitled to appear by and through his or her counsel. View "Weatherly v. Cochran" on Justia Law