Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed a Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) order adjusting value that increased the “majority land use grass” subclass of the agricultural and horticultural land class of real property not receiving special value within Webster County in the amount of six percent. The Supreme Court held that, in adjusting the level of value for grassland upward by six percent, TERC did not improperly rely on Nebraska’s Property Tax Administrator’s statistical reports and opinion, as (1) the Administrator’s required reports under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-1327 are competent evidence to support a TERC equalization order without setting out information about each real property transaction that was used for the statistical analysis; and (2) Webster County failed to meet its burden that TERC should not rely on the Administrator’s reports. View "County of Webster v. Nebraska Tax Equalization & Review Commission" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the adjustment of the valuation of three subclasses of residential real property in Douglas County. The Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) issued an order to show cause why it should not increase the valuation of two properties by seven percent and decrease the valuation of a third property by eight percent. TERC voted to adjust the valuations. Douglas County filed a motion to reconsider, which the TERC commissioners overruled. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) TERC’s order to decrease the valuation of one property by eight percent was not supported by competent evidence and was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable; (2) TERC’s order to increase the valuation of the other two properties was supported by competent evidence and was not arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable; and (3) TERC did not abuse its discretion by denying Douglas County’s motion to reconsider its order. View "County of Douglas v. Nebraska Tax Equalization & Review Commission" on Justia Law

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Ginger Cove Common Area Company sued Scott Wiekhorst for unpaid assessments. Wiekhorst filed a counterclaim alleging that Ginger Cover violated its fiduciary duty. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment against Wiekhorst. Wiekhorst appealed, challenging an order entered two months earlier that overruled his motion to vacate or set aside an order of sanctions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Wiekhorst properly waited until final judgment to appeal; but (2) because Wiekhorst failed to present a record to support his assigned error, this Court affirms the lower court’s decision regarding that error. View "Ginger Cove Common Area Co. v. Wiekhorst" on Justia Law

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Jerry Morgan purchased property by obtaining a loan secured by a deed of trust. Morgan conveyed the property to his company, Midland Properties, LLC, and managed the property as a rental. Wells Fargo, N.A., which had been assigned the lender’s interest in the promissory note and deed of trust, initiated a nonjudicial foreclosure on the deed of trust, citing Morgan’s failure to make payments as they became due. HBI, LLC purchased the property at a trustee’s sale and conveyed the property to H&S Partnership, LLP. Morgan and Midland Properties (collectively, Appellants) filed an amended complaint against Wells Fargo, HBI, and H&S alleging wrongful foreclosure of a deed of trust, quiet title, tortious interference with business relationships, and declaratory relief. The district court granted summary judgment for Wells Fargo. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly excluded evidence for lack of foundation and hearsay; (2) the evidence did not support Appellants’ claims or establish a genuine issue of material fact; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellants’ motion for leave to amend their complaint. View "Midland Properties, LLC v. Wells Fargo, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement (N-CORPE), a political subdivision of the State of Nebraska, brought condemnation proceedings against Appellant seeking an easement across Appellant’s real estate. In response, Appellant filed a complaint for injunction against board members of the N-CORPE project and N-CORPE (collectively, Appellees), alleging, inter alia, that N-CORPE does not have the power of eminent domain. In addition, Appellant filed an application for temporary restraining order and a motion for temporary injunction, both of which the district court denied. The district court then granted Appellees’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) N-CORPE had the authority to exercise the power of eminent domain; (2) N-CORPE did not need certain permits and approvals as alleged by Appellant; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Appellant’s motion to amend the complaint; (4) N-CORPE is not prohibited by common law from removing ground water from overlying land; and (5) there is not material issue of fact regarding whether the condemnation is for a public use. View "Estermann v. Bose" on Justia Law

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The Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) adjusted upward by eight percent the value of the “land use grass” subclass of the agricultural and horticultural land class of real property in Franklin County not receiving special valuation. Franklin County appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed TERC’s order adjusting the Franklin County grassland value upward by eight percent, holding (1) TERC did not err in relying on the statistics prepared by the Property Tax Administrator; (2) there was no merit to Franklin County’s argument that TERC violated Neb. Const. art. VIII by failing to uniformly and proportionally value grasslands in the state; and (3) Franklin County’s remaining assignments of error were without merit. View "County of Franklin v. Tax Equalization & Review Commission" on Justia Law

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Western Ethanol Co., LLC obtained a judgment lien on Midwest Renewable Energy, LLC’s Lincoln County real property. Western Ethanol then dissolved and transferred its assets to its members. Douglas Vind, the managing member of Western Ethanol, claimed that Western Ethanol transferred the Midwest Renewable judgment to him. Thereafter, Midwest Renewable filed a quiet title action against several entities and all known and unknown parties claiming an interest in its Lincoln County property, including Western Ethanol. After a trial, the court ruled that Western Ethanol’s judgment had been assigned to Vind, who was never made a party to the litigation, and that the judgment lien against the real estate owned by Midwest Renewable was still valid and subsisting. The court subsequently dismissed with prejudice Midwest Renewable’s action regarding Western Ethanol. The Supreme Court vacated the court’s opinion and judgment, holding (1) Western Ethanol was amenable to suit; and (2) the trial court erred in not making Vind a party to the action sua sponte because he was an indispensable party to the controversies decided by the court. Remanded with direction to make Vind a party. View "Midwest Renewable Energy, LLC v. American Engineering Testing, Inc." on Justia Law

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Medicine Creek LLC filed a request for a variance from the Middle Republican Natural Resources District’s (MRNRD) moratorium on new well drilling. MRNRD voted to deny the variance. Medicine Creek sought judicial review pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 46-750 and the Administrative Procedure Act. The district court reversed, concluding that MRNRD’s decision was not supported by the evidence, did not conform to the law, and was therefore arbitrary. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the order denying Medicine Creek’s request for a variance was judicial in nature and was appealable to the district court; and (2) the district court committed plain error by applying the wrong standard of review rather than the de novo standard. Remanded. View "Medicine Creek LLC v. Middle Republican Natural Resources District" 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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Guardian Tax Partners Inc. purchased, at a treasurer’s tax sale, a one percent interest in certain Douglas County real estate owned by Skrupa Investment Company. Guardian subsequently recorded a treasurer’s tax deed to the real estate interest. Thereafter, Guardian filed a complaint for partition against Skrupa Investment and Frank and Mary Skrupa. In their answer, Skrupa Investment and Frank alleged that Guardian’s tax deed was invalid due to Guardian’s failure to give the required statutory notice to the record owner. Skrupa Investment also filed a counterclaim to quiet title, claiming 100 percent interest in the property. On July 24, 2015, the district court entered an order finding that the tax deed was valid and determining that Guardian owned a one percent interest and Skrupa Investment owned a ninety-nine percent interest in the real estate. Upon Skrupa Investment’s motion, the district court certified the July 24 order as final and appealable. Skrupa Investment then appealed from the July 24 order. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Skrupa Investment’s appeal was out of time because the July 24, 2015 order was a final, appealable order not subject to certification under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1315. View "Guardian Tax Partners, Inc. v. Skrupa Investment Co." on Justia Law