Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
Charter West Bank v. Riddle
The Supreme Court vacated the permanent injunction against Defendants for cybersquatting, holding that Charter West Bank failed to produce evidence showing it was entitled to protection under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA).Charter West brought this lawsuit against pursuant to the ACPA in state district court seeking an injunction enjoining Defendants from using the domain name "www.charterwestbank.com" and using the website to post information that would reflect negatively on Charter West. The district court concluded that Defendants violated the ACPA by threatening to use the website to disseminate adverse information unless the bank purchased it for $1 million. The district court granted Charter West's request for a permanent injunction and enjoined Defendants from using any domain name containing the words "charter west." The Supreme Court reversed and vacated the injunction, holding that Charter West failed to prove it owned a mark that was "distinctive" or "famous" and therefore did not meet the requirements of the ACPA. View "Charter West Bank v. Riddle" on Justia Law
State v. Said
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for second degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony, holding that there was no abuse in the trial proceedings.Specifically, the Court held (1) any error in the admission of statements Defendant made during two interviews was harmless, and the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant's motion to suppress a letter to his sister; (2) the district court did not err when it overruled Defendant's motion to suppress evidence from the search of his cell phone; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it prohibited Defendant from presenting evidence regarding the victim’s mental health and use of alcohol and prescription drugs; (4) the district court did not err when it denied Defendant the right to cross-examine a witness on issues the court determined to lack probative value; and (5) the district court did not err when it allowed evidence that results of certain DNA tests were uninterpretable. View "State v. Said" on Justia Law
Schaefer Shapiro, LLP v. Ball
In this case where a judgment creditor sought to garnish the judgment debtor's bank account, which, at one time, contained funds both exempt and nonexempt from garnishment, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the county court finding that the bank account consisted solely of exempt funds, holding that funds exempt from garnishment remain exempt, even when commingled with nonexempt funds, so long as the source of exempt funds is reasonably traceable.Plaintiff obtained a judgment against Defendant and sought to garnish Defendant's bank account. The court ordered that the non-exempt funds in the account be transferred to the court. Defendant requested a hearing, asserting that the funds were exempt from garnishment because the only funds in the account were Social Security payments. Plaintiff stated that at one point the account held non-exempt funds commingled with the Social Security funds but that the non-exempt funds had been spent. The county court ruled that the funds were exempt. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant met his burden to prove that the remaining funds in his account constituted exempt Social Security funds. View "Schaefer Shapiro, LLP v. Ball" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Peterson v. Creative Community Promotions, LLC
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
Salem Grain Co. v. Consolidated Grain & Barge Co.
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
McCoolidge v. Oyvetsky
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
Buckeye State Mut. Ins. Co. v. Humlicek
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
Heritage Bank v. Bruha
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
Gonzalez v. Union Pacific RR. Co.
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.
Chicago Lumber Co. of Omaha v. Selvera
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.