Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The district court lacked jurisdiction to vacate an arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Matt Karo and Michael Karo obtained federally reinsured crop insurance policies serviced by NAU Country Insurance Company (NAU). The Karos submitted “prevented planting” claims under their crop insurance policies alleging that they were unable to plant corn on certain acres due to wet conditions. NAU denied the Karos’ prevented planting claims. The parties then submitted their disputes to binding arbitration pursuant to a mandatory arbitration clause in the crop insurance policies. The arbitrator denied coverage. The Karos then sought to vacate the arbitration award under section ten of the FAA. The district court vacated the arbitration award, finding that the arbitrator exceeded his powers and manifestly disregarded the law. The Supreme court vacated the district court’s judgment and dismissed this appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter a judgment vacating the arbitration award under the FAA because the Karos failed to comply with the three-month notice requirement of section twelve of the FAA. View "Karo v. NAU Country Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Lori Greenwood was injured while working for J.J. Hooligans, LLC. Greenwood was informed that because of nonpayment, FirstComp Insurance Company (FirstComp) was not the workers’ compensation insurance carrier on the date of the accident. Greenwood filed a petition against J.J. Hooligan’s and FirstComp seeking workers’ compensation benefits. FirstComp filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it was not a proper party because it had timely notified J.J. Hooligan’s that it had terminated its insurance coverage for nonpayment of its premium and therefore did not provide workers’ compensation insurance on the date of the accident. The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court sustained the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that FirstComp failed to present sufficient competent evidence as to whether it complied with the employer notice of cancellation requirement in Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-144.03 to warrant an order of dismissal. View "Greenwood v. J.J. Hooligan’s, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of Appellant’s complaint against American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin claiming wrongful denial of coverage. American Standard denied underinsured coverage to Appellant, who was in a motorcycle-motor vehicle accident, asserting that Appellant’s motorcycle insurance policy had been canceled prior to the accident. The district court granted partial summary judgment for American Standard. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred when it found that American Standard sent a cancellation notice to Appellant by certified mail in compliance with Neb. Rev. Stat. 44-516, and therefore, American Standard was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Barnes v. American Standard Insurance Co. of Wisconsin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment for the County of Lancaster in this complaint filed by the City of Lincoln seeking reimbursement of expenses paid on its employee’s behalf after a deputy sheriff with the County made contact with the employee, injuring the employee’s shoulder. The district court concluded (1) the County’s procurement of liability insurance did not constitute a waiver of its sovereign immunity for claims less than the policy’s retained insurance limit; and (2) because the amount in controversy was $63,418, the County did not waive its sovereign immunity by obtaining insurance for claims exceeding $250,000. The Supreme Court affirmed for reasons different from those stated by the district court, holding (1) the County’s procurement of insurance did not constitute a waiver of immunity as to a claim arising out of a battery; and (2) therefore, the County’s policy did not cover the underlying event, and there was no waiver of immunity regardless of the retained insurance limit. View "City of Lincoln v. County of Lancaster" on Justia Law

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Rosemary Henn filed a putative class action in a federal court alleging that American Family Mutual Insurance Company wrongfully failed to compensate her and others similarly situated by depreciating labor costs in calculation of “actual cash value” for loss or damage to a building under its homeowner’s insurance policies. The federal court certified a question to the Nebraska Supreme Court asking whether an insurer, in determining the “actual cash value” of a covered loss, may depreciate the cost of labor when the policy does not state explicitly that labor costs will be depreciated and the terms “actual cash value” and “depreciation” are not defined in the policy. The Supreme Court answered in the affirmative, holding that the term “actual cash value” is unambiguous and that labor can be depreciated. View "Henn v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company issued a homeowner’s insurance policy to Howard Hunter that prohibited an assignment of “[a]ll rights and duties” without Farm Bureau’s consent. After a storm damaged the roof of Hunter’s home, he assigned his claim to Millard Gutter Company, the company that repaired the roof. Millard Gutter sued Farm Bureau and obtained a county court judgment. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the postloss assignment of a claim under a homeowner’s insurance policy was valid despite the nonassignment cause. View "Millard Gutter Co. v. Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Bruce Evertson was killed in a two-vehicle accident during the course and scope of his employment. Bruce’s estate filed a wrongful death claim against the insurer of the other driver. The county court accepted a settlement in the matter and allocated the proceeds among Bruce’s widow, Darla Evertson, and adult children. Darla received workers’ compensation benefits from Travelers Indemnity Company as a result of Bruce’s death. Travelers filed a subrogation claim to Darla’s settlement proceeds. The county court ordered that Travelers was not entitled to any distribution of Darla’s proceeds and did not provide Travelers any future credit against the workers’ compensation benefits it owed Darla. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and remanded with directions to vacate the order of the county court, holding that the county court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear and decide the subrogation matter. View "In re Estate of Evertson" on Justia Law

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At the center of this dispute was defective rebar that was incorporated into the construction of concrete pile caps that would form support for the Pinnacle Bank Arena. Some of the pile caps had to be modified in order to provide the necessary structural support for the Arena. The general contractor paid the costs of the correction and sought reimbursement from Drake-Williams Steel, Inc. (DWS), which fabricated the rebar. DWS reimbursed the general contractor and sought coverage from its insurers. The insurers denied the claim and commenced this action to determine their obligations under the policies of insurance. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no coverage under the policies. View "Drake-Williams Steel, Inc. v. Continental Cas. Co." on Justia Law

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Opal Lowman was injured in an automobile accident. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company provided underinsured motorist coverage to Opal and her husband. The Lowmans sued State Farm, seeking damages. The jury returned a verdict for the Lowmans in the amount of $0. The Lowmans filed a motion for a new trial, which was overruled. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err when it entered judgment on the jury’s verdict where the jury awarded the Lowmans no money damages; and (2) the district court did not err in denying the Lowmans’ motion for new trial. View "Lowman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant, an over-the-road truck driver, filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, alleging that he sustained injuries in the form of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in an accident that occurred during the course and scope of his employment. The compensation court applied a split test of causation used in heart attack cases, which requires proof of both legal and medical causation. The court then dismissed Appellant’s claim for failure to establish the medical cause prong. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Appellant’s claim, holding (1) the split test was properly applied to Appellant’s injuries in this case, as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism present the same difficulties in attributing the cause of a heart attack to a claimant’s work and are similar in origin to a heart attack; and (2) the compensation court’s finding as to causation was not clearly wrong. View "Wingfield v. Hill Bros. Transp., Inc." on Justia Law