Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiff, which operated commercial grain warehouses and elevators and owned trading businesses through Nebraska, filed a complaint alleging that several defendants engaged in a pattern of behavior with the intent to deprive it of information, an opportunity to be heard, and due process of law. The district court concluded that Defendants were entitled to immunity under Nebraska’s Consumer Protection Act and the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and that Plaintiff’s claims of conspiracy and aiding and abetting required an underlying tort to be actionable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because Defendants were entitled to immunity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and Plaintiff alleged only underlying statutory violations; and (2) any amendment to Plaintiff’s petition would be futile. View "Salem Grain Co. v. Consolidated Grain & Barge Co." on Justia Law

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James McCoolidge bought a used automobile over the Internet. After McCoolidge received the certificate of title, however, he had trouble registering the certificate in Nebraska. McCoolidge sued the man that sold him the car, a licensed dealer in Tennessee, and the insurer that had issued a surety bond to the dealership, alleging failure to deliver “clear title” for the vehicle. The district court entered judgment for Defendants, concluding that Defendants initially breached the warranty of title but that McCoolidge eventually received good title and that McCoolidge had failed to prove damages. McCoolidge appealed, arguing that even after he received a registrable certificate, certain defects cast a shadow on his title. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that McCoolidge did not prove the damages he suffered from these defects. View "McCoolidge v. Oyvetsky" on Justia Law

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Owners of a duplex insured a building through two concurrently issued, identical policies - one for each unit. A fire damages the entire structure, and Insurer paid the owners' claims under both policies. Insurer then brought this action to determine its subrogation rights against the tenant (Tenant) of one of the duplex units, who was allegedly negligent in starting the fire. Insurer conceded the pursuant to Tri-Par Investments v. Sousa, Tenant was an implied coinsured under the policy covering the unit he lived in. Therefore, Insurer sought to recoup payments made for the damage only to the unit Tenant did not live in. The district court granted Tenant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) granting Tenant's motion for summary judgment, as the rule in Tri-Par Investments applies to bar subrogation against a duplex tenant as to both sides of the building; (2) ruling that Tenant was a coinsured with Owners under Nebraska law; (3) failing to rule that Insurer was allowed to subrogate against Tenant; and (4) denying Insurer's request for declaratory judgment. View "Buckeye State Mut. Ins. Co. v. Humlicek" on Justia Law

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Heritage Bank sued Jerome Bruha on promissory notes that it had purchased from the FDIC. The FDIC had obtained the notes after it became a receiver for the failed bank that had initially lent the money to Bruha. The notes secured lines of credit for Bruha's benefit. The district court granted summary judgment to Heritage and awarded it $61,384 on one of the notes. The primary issues on appeal were whether the holder-in-due-course rule of Nebraska's Uniform Commercial Code or federal banking law barred Bruha's defenses to the enforcement of the note. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed in part, concluding that federal law barred Bruha's defenses; and (2) reversed in part because of a minor error in the court's calculation of interest. Remanded. View "Heritage Bank v. Bruha" on Justia Law

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Thirteen-year-old Efrain Ramos-Domingo was killed by a Union Pacific Railroad Company train. Two days later, Efrain's mother, Manuela Gonzalez signed a document releasing Union Pacific from liability for Efrain's death in exchange for $15,000. Manuela later filed a complaint in district court for wrongful death and breach of fiduciary duty. Union Pacific filed a motion to dismiss Manuela's complaint, arguing that the release barred Manuela's claims. The district court sustained the motion to dismiss with respect to the wrongful death claim but overruled the motion with respect to the fiduciary duty claim. The district court then granted Union Pacific's motion for summary judgment on the remaining claim, finding that there was no fiduciary duty owed by Union Pacific to Manuela. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court erred in dismissing Manuela's wrongful death claim because Manuela alleged facts that, if proved, could demonstrate that the release was void on the basis of its failure to represent a binding mutual understanding of the parties or was voidable as the product of fraud, overreaching or duress; and (2) the district court correctly concluded that Union Pacific owed no fiduciary duty to Manuela. Remanded.

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Chicago Lumber recorded a construction lien on JoAnn Selvera's home and sued to foreclose the lien. Selvera brought a counterclaim under Neb. Rev. Stat. 52-157, which provides a remedy against claimants who, in bad faith, file liens, overstate liens, or refuse to release liens. Chicago Lumber eventually withdrew its foreclosure action and released its lien, but Selvera maintained her suit. The district court granted summary judgment to Selvera, concluding that (1) because Selvera had not received a copy of Chicago Lumber's lien within ten days of its recording, the lien was invalid; and (2) Chicago Lumber's failure to dismiss its action and to release the lien before it received Selvera's documents clarifying that she had paid her debt in full constituted bad faith. The court awarded Selvera $10,000 in attorney fees. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Chicago Lumber had a reasonable belief that its lien was valid, at least before it received Selvera's clarifying documents, Chicago Lumber did not act in bad faith. The Court concluded that after Chicago Lumber received the clarifying documents, questions of fact existed whether Chicago Lumber was acting in bad faith. Remanded.