Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court ruled that the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court did not err in determining that Bennett Construction, a sole proprietorship owned and operated by Mark Bennett, was neither Robert Kohout’s direct employer nor his statutory employer under the facts of this case. Kohout was injured as a result of falling from the roof of a barn on the property of Brian Shook and sought workers’ compensation benefits from Bennett Construction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Nick Bennett, Mark’s son, lacked apparent authority to enter into a contract with Shook on behalf of Bennett Construction; and (2) Nick did not enter into a joint venture with Mark or Bennett Construction concerning the Shook job. View "Kohout v. Bennett Construction" on Justia Law

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Homeowners obtained loans from Bank for the construction of a new home and entered into an agreement with Contractor to complete the new home construction. When Homeowners defaulted on payments owed to Contractor and on both loans, the house was sold at foreclosure, and Homeowners filed for bankruptcy. Contractor filed a fourth amended complaint against Homeowners, who were later dismissed as parties, and Bank. Following a trial the court granted summary judgment for Bank on Contractor’s claims of fraud and civil conspiracy. The Supreme Court reversed. After remand, Contractor filed a fifth amended complaint, which differed from the fourth amended complaint in several respects. The district court determined that the election of remedies doctrine and judicial estoppel required a dismissal of Contractor’s claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Contractor’s claims were consistently premised on the existence of a contract, and therefore, no election was required; and (2) Contractor’s claims were based on different facts and obligations, and therefore, both could be pursued. View "deNourie & Yost Homes, LLC v. Frost" on Justia Law

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In 2011, the City of Omaha enacted an ordinance requiring contractors doing work within the City to obtain a license. Appellant challenged the ordinance on various grounds. As relevant on appeal, Appellant alleged that the passage of the ordinance did not comply with the procedural requirements of the Omaha City Charter, that the ordinance placed an unfair restriction on and monopolized the City’s contracting industry, and that the ordinance violated his constitutional rights. The district court granted summary judgment for the City on all but one of Appellant’s claims. After a bench trial, the district court ruled in favor of the City, concluding that the City was empowered to enact the ordinance and that the ordinance did not prevent Appellant from working on his own property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the City had the authority to enact the ordinance. View "Malone v. City of Omaha" on Justia Law

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The Weitz Company, LLC, a general contractor, submitted a bid on a planned nursing facility. Weitz’s bid incorporated the amount of a bid submitted to Weitz by H&S Plumbing and Heating for the plumbing work and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning parts of the job. The project owner awarded the project to Weitz, but H&S reneged on its bid. Weitz used other subcontractors to complete the project at greater expense. Weitz later sued H&S, claiming breach of contract and promissory estoppel. The court determined that the parties had not formed a contract but enforced H&S’s bid under promissory estoppel, awarding Weitz damages of $292,492. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and the amount of damages, holding that the district court did not err by entering a judgment for Weitz on its promissory estoppel claim and correctly measured Weitz’s damages. View "Weitz Co., LLC v. Hands, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, homeowners, brought this action against Defendants, the company that constructed Plaintiffs’ home and the developer of the lot on which the home was built, alleging negligent construction of the home. Defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that the action was barred by the four-year statute of limitations set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-223. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed as to the developer but reversed as to the construction company, finding the action against it was not barred by section 25-223. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with directions to affirm the judgment of the district court, holding that the court of appeals erred in concluding that the statute of limitations began to run on Plaintiffs’ claims at the expiration of the express one-year limited warranty issued by the construction company instead of the date the home was substantially completed. View "Adams v. Manchester Park" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and tampering with a witness. In this direct appeal, Defendant contended (1) the district court erred in overruling his motion to suppress evidence; (2) the district court erred in giving jury instructions that incorrectly stated the law; and (3) the prosecutor's closing remarks were so inflammatory that reversal under the plain error standard was warranted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress; (2) Defendant was not prejudiced and his substantial rights were not affected by the jury instructions; and (3) the prosecutor's comments did not prejudice Defendant. View "State v. Alarcon-Chavez" on Justia Law

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After Claimant's attempt to obtain a refund of sales tax on building materials used in the construction of an ethanol production plant was administratively denied in part, Claimant sought judicial review. This appeal turned on a statutory limitation of the exemption for manufacturing machinery and equipment and the limited statutory authority for appointment of a purchasing agent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the statute limited the exemption to purchases by the manufacturer; and (2) a contractual provision purporting to entitle the manufacturer to all tax credits for taxes paid by a construction contractor was not effective as a purchasing agent appointment. View "Bridgeport Ethanol v. Neb. Dep't of Revenue" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Matthew Fox was convicted of first degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. Fox appealed, asserting that the district court erred when it found him competent to stand trial and when it allowed him to absent himself from major portions of the trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err when it determined that Fox was competent to stand trial, and (2) the district court did not err when it found that Fox knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to be present at trial and allowed Fox to absent himself from trial. View "State v. Fox" on Justia Law

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Danny O'Neall was injured while working for Sadler Line Construction, a subcontractor of Alliance Construction. Sadler had commercial general liability (CGL) coverage with Federated Service Inusrance Company. In the underlying personal injury action, O'Neall sued Alliance and Sadler for negligence. In the instant action, Federated filed a declaratory judgment action against Alliance, alleging that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Alliance against O'Neall's personal injury action. The district court granted summary judgment for Federated. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the parties, by requiring Sadler to name Alliance as an additional insured on its CGL policy, intended that Sadler would insure against loss caused by Alliance's negligence; and (2) Sadler's additional insured endorsement, which provided coverage for liability arising out of Sadler's operations, was broad enough to include coverage for Alliance's negligence even if Sadler was not negligent. Remanded. View "Federated Serv. Ins. Co. v. Alliance Constr." on Justia Law

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Ronald Bacon was injured while working at a construction site. Bacon sued the general contractor, the general contractor's commercial liability insurer, the subcontractor, and the parent company of the subcontractor. Bacon settled with the insurer, which together with the general contractor's separate liability insurer, made payments to Bacon pursuant to the settlement agreement. After Bacon settled with the subcontractor's parent company, the general contractor's two insurers filed a breach of contract action because Bacon received the proceeds of his second settlement but refused to make payment to the insurers under the terms of the first settlement agreement. The district court granted summary judgment for the insurers, finding Bacon, his lawyer, and the lawyer's law firm liable in the amount of $437,500. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's finding that lawyer and law firm were personally liable on the contract, holding that an attorney and/or law firm is not liable on a contract negotiated on behalf of a client when the contract provides that both the client and the attorney "agree to and will pay" a certain sum of money and the attorney signs the contract under the legend "Agreed to in Form & Substance". The Court otherwise affirmed. View "RSUI Indemnity Co. v. Bacon" on Justia Law