Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
Haffke v. Signal 88, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's claims for defamation and retaliation, holding that the district court did not err in instructing the jury and in applying Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-840.01 and directing a verdict in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's defamation claim.After Plaintiff's employment with Defendant was terminated Plaintiff filed a claim of retaliation under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1101 to -1126, and defamation. The district court granted a directed verdict for Defendant on the defamation claim, and a jury found Plaintiff failed to prove his retaliation claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not commit prejudicial error in (1) giving a jury instruction for retaliation that required Plaintiff to have opposed or refused to carry out a practice of Defendant that was unlawful; (2) giving a jury instruction on the business judgment rule; and (3) granting Defendant a directed verdict on the defamation claim. View "Haffke v. Signal 88, LLC" on Justia Law
Frans v. Waldinger Corp.
The Supreme Court modified the opinion of the court of appeals to direct the dismissal of Plaintiff's amended petition to a limited extent, holding that there was no basis for directing Plaintiff's entire petition to be dismissed.Plaintiff was injured in an acceding arising out of and in the course of his employment. Plaintiff later filed a petition seeking reimbursement for continuing medical treatment related to the work accident, alleging that he had injured his head, neck and lower back and required treatment for depression and anxiety. The compensation court concluded that Plaintiff was entitled to reimbursement for treatment of his lower back, as well as depression and anxiety, but that Plaintiff was not entitled to reimbursement for medical treatment related to head and neck injuries. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with directions to dismiss the petition, concluding that the evidence was insufficient to establish that Plaintiff's depression and anxiety developed as a result of his low back condition. The Supreme Court modified the court of appeals' opinion, concluding that the petition should be dismissed only to the extent it sought reimbursement for treatment for depression, anxiety, and head and neck injuries. View "Frans v. Waldinger Corp." on Justia Law
Picard v. P & C Group 1, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the Nebraska Worker's Compensation Court's awards for injuries suffered by Halina Picard in two separate accidents, holding that the court of appeals correctly found that the doctrine of apportionment did not apply but erred in affirming the award of benefits for Picard's 2015 accident and injury.In 2016, Picard filed claims against P & C Group 1, Inc. relating to industrial injuries she received in 2012 and 2015. The compensation court determined that Picard was entitled to an award for a whole body injury based on both injuries, that apportionment was not appropriate, and that Picard was entitled to attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed the awards for Picard's 2012 and 2015 injuries and reversed the attorney fees award. The Supreme Court reversed Picard's award of benefits for the 2015 injury, holding that the court of appeals (1) did not err in vacating Picard's attorney fees award; (2) did not err in finding that apportionment was inapplicable and determining that Picard's second injury award should not be apportioned with the first; and (3) erred in disregarding Picard's disability from the 2012 accident when assessing her lost earnings from the 2015 injury. View "Picard v. P & C Group 1, Inc." on Justia Law
Aboytes-Mosqueda v. LFA Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Workers' Compensation Court (WCC) dismissing Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim against Ismael Huerta and LFA Inc. because Plaintiff failed to prove he was an employee of Huerta, holding that the WCC did not clearly err in its determination that Plaintiff was not an employee of Huerta.Plaintiff was working on a roofing job with Huerta when he slipped and fell from the roof. Plaintiff brought a claim against Huerta and LFA, claiming that Huerta was his employer and that Huerta and LFA conducted a scheme to avoid liability under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act. The WCC dismissed the action, finding that Plaintiff failed to carry his burden of demonstrating that he was Huerta's employee. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the WCC did not err in concluding that Plaintiff failed to prove his employee status. View "Aboytes-Mosqueda v. LFA Inc." on Justia Law
Sellers v. Reefer Systems, Inc.
In this workers' compensation case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Employee's motion for attorney fees for his counsel's appellate work, holding that the affidavit submitted by Employee's attorney sufficiently justified under Neb. Ct. R. App. P. 2-109(F) reasonable attorney fees to which Employee had a statutory right.Employee was awarded permanent total disability benefits. Employer appealed the award to the court of appeals, which affirmed the award in all respects. Employee then filed a motion for an award of reasonable attorney fees under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-125(4)(b) for the reason that Employer appealed the trial court's decision and there was no reduction in the amount of the award on appeal. Attached to the motion was the affidavit of Employee's counsel who worked on the appeal. The court of appeals denied the motion on the ground that the affidavit did not provide sufficient information to justify the reasonableness of the attorney fees sought. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the affidavit contained sufficient justification of the extent and value of the appellate attorney services to make a meaningful determination of the amount of "reasonable" attorney fees to which Employee was entitled. View "Sellers v. Reefer Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Merrick v. Fischer, Rounds & Associates, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff's employer's insurance broker and insurer and dismissing Plaintiff's action claiming that the broker had a duty to advise the employer to obtain workers' compensation insurance and that the insurer had a duty to defend the employer in the underlying action, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff was injured in an accident during the course and scope of his employement. Plaintiff reached a settlement with his employer and received an assignment of rights against his employer's insurance broker and insurer. Plaintiff then brought this action. The district court concluded that both the broker and the insurer were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) applying case law applicable to insurance agents rather than insurance brokers; (2) finding that the broker fulfilled its duties as an insurance broker to the employer; and (3) finding that the insurer did not owe a duty to defend the insurer. View "Merrick v. Fischer, Rounds & Associates, Inc." on Justia Law
Loyd v. Family Dollar Stores of Nebraska, Inc
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from an order disapproving the parties' application for an order approving a lump-sum settlement on the grounds that the application was not in compliance with the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-101 et seq., holding that the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court's order of disapproval was not a final, appealable order.Plaintiff filed a petition seeking benefits for injuries she sustained while working for Employer. The parties eventually agreed to settle the dispute for a lump-sum payment of $150,000, along with the establishment of an interest-bearing account for additional medical payments. The parties filed a joint stipulation, but the stipulation did not include the amount of fees and costs. The compensation court disapproved the lump sum settlement application and joint stipulation, finding that the application and joint stipulation were not in compliance with the Act and not in the best interests of Plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the compensation court's order of disapproval, standing alone, was not a final, appealable order. View "Loyd v. Family Dollar Stores of Nebraska, Inc" on Justia Law
Drought v. Marsh
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Employer and dismissing two former employees' complaint seeking paid time off (PTO) compensation under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act (Wage Act), holding that the employees did not meet the written employment agreement's stated conditions to earn PTO.As an affirmative defense to Employees' claims, Employer argued that Employees' claims were barred by the terms of the agreement. Specifically, Employer argued that because Employees did not have billable hours and did not bill hours to a client no PTO accrued under the agreement. The district court sustained Employer's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Employees did not bill to clients more than forty hours of work per week Employees did not earn PTO under the terms of the employment agreement. View "Drought v. Marsh" on Justia Law
Eddy v. Builders Supply Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court dismissing Plaintiff's petition alleging that she had sustained a severe and permanent brain injury as a result of an accident with a nail gun while she was at work for Builders Supply Company, Inc., holding that the compensation court did not err in concluding that Plaintiff had been willfully negligent.The workers' compensation court dismissed Plaintiff's petition upon finding that she intentionally shot herself in the head with the nail gun. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court (1) did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of Plaintiff's expert witness as a discovery sanction; (2) did not abuse its discretion in declining to grant Plaintiff a second continuance; and (3) did not err in finding that Plaintiff acted with willful negligence. View "Eddy v. Builders Supply Co." on Justia Law
Fentress v. Westin, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court awarding temporary total disability and attorney fees to Suzy Fentress, holding that the compensation court did not err.Fentress received a workplace injury while working for Westin, Inc. The compensation court entered an award in which Fentress received temporary partial workers' compensation benefits. Westin later moved to terminate the temporary indemnity benefits and to determine maximum medical improvement (MMI) and permanency. After the compensation court held an evidentiary hearing to determine MMI Westin moved to withdraw its motion to determine MMI. The compensation court disallowed the withdrawal of the motion and, thereafter, awarded temporary total disability and attorney fees to Fentress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court did not err when it (1) overruled Westin's motion to withdraw its motion to determine MMI; (2) admitted certain evidence during the hearing; (3) found that Fentress had achieved MMI with respect to mental health issues but not physical health issues; and (4) awarded Fentress medical treatment, temporary total disability, and attorney fees. View "Fentress v. Westin, Inc." on Justia Law