Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order dismissing Tenants' first cause of action against Landlord under the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) but reversed as to Tenants' second, third, and fourth causes of action, holding that the complaint stated plausible claims for relief under Neb. Rev. Stat. 76-1419, 76-1430, and 76-1439 of the URLTA for retaliatory conduct, ouster, and failure to maintain fit and habitable premises but not under sections 76-1418 and 76-1429 for failure to deliver possession. In their complaint, Tenants alleged that numerous code violations materially affecting their health and safety were present at the time they commenced physical possession of the property at issue but were not discovered until later. The City of Omaha Planning Department's housing division eventually declared the property unsafe and unfit for human occupancy, Tenants vacated the premises and did not receive a return of their security deposit or rent and utilities paid for the months they were unable to occupy the premises. Tenants then brought this action. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the alleged facts did not state a claim for relief under the URLTA. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in dismissing several causes of action. View "Vasquez v. CHI Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court ruling that IOC Realty Specialist Inc. and its sole shareholder, Bernard Tompkins, violated the Disposition of Personal Property Landlord and Tenant Act by knowingly retaining personal property belonging to Samuel Pan, a former tenant, and awarding Pan damages and attorney fees. In his complaint, Pan alleged that IOC, his former landlord, refused to return his personal property that remained on the leased premises after Pan had ended his tenancy. The trial court entered judgment against IOC and Tompkins for the wrongful retention of property pursuant to the Act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Act applies in commercial lease cases; (2) the district court did not clearly err when it held that IOC violated the Act by refusing to return Pan’s property upon his request; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support the court’s award of damages and attorney fees under the Act. View "Pan v. IOC Realty Specialist Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether a lease clause requiring a remainderman that leased real estate from a life tenant for one year ending on October 31, 2015 to pay unspecified real estate taxes made her liable for 2015 taxes that became due and payable on December 31. The life tenant died in August. The county court determined that the lease agreements controlled the lessor’s and lessee’s respective obligations to pay taxes, found the leases to be ambiguous, and ordered the life tenant’s Estate to reimburse the remaindermen. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that, because the Estate did not own the property on December 31, 2015, and the leases did not obligate the decedent to pay taxes that had not yet become due, the county court erred in ordering the estate to reimburse the remaindermen for the real estate taxes they paid. View "In re Estate of Karmazin" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether a lease clause requiring a remainderman that leased real estate from a life tenant for one year ending on October 31, 2015 to pay unspecified real estate taxes made her liable for 2015 taxes that became due and payable on December 31. The life tenant died in August. The county court determined that the lease agreements controlled the lessor’s and lessee’s respective obligations to pay taxes, found the leases to be ambiguous, and ordered the life tenant’s Estate to reimburse the remaindermen. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that, because the Estate did not own the property on December 31, 2015, and the leases did not obligate the decedent to pay taxes that had not yet become due, the county court erred in ordering the estate to reimburse the remaindermen for the real estate taxes they paid. View "In re Estate of Karmazin" on Justia Law

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At issue in this action against Tenant, which abandoned leased property and then surrendered the property, was whether the district court correctly awarded damages to the date Landlord, which elected to sell the property, reached a tentative agreement to sell the property rather than to an actual sale date. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s damages award, holding that, although Landlord did not elect to accept Tenant’s abandonment and terminate the lease, the duration of finalizing the sale was not reasonable. The court, however, reversed the district court’s dismissal of Tenant’s out-of-state guarantor for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the guaranty established sufficient connections to Nebraska. View "Hand Cut Steaks Acquisitions, Inc. v. Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon of Nebraska, Inc." on Justia Law

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Landlord leased commercial real estate to Tenant, a third party. The lease agreement provided on option to purchase with a condition precedent. At the time Tenant assigned this purchase option to Assignees, Tenant had fully performed all obligations under the lease. When Assignees attempted to exercise the purchase option, Landlord denied the attempt, arguing that because of certain rental underpayments, which were later paid in full, Tenant had failed to satisfy the condition precedent. Assignees filed a complaint seeking specific performance of the purchase option. Landlord later moved for specific performance of the terms and provisions of the purchase option. The district court sustained Landlord’s motion, and Assignees purchased the property. The district court then entered judgment in Assignees’ favor and awarded equitable monetary relief for lost rentals. Landlord appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) Landlord was judicially estopped from asserting the condition precedent in avoidance of equitable monetary relief; and (2) Landlord was entitled to offset the monetary award with the interest on the unpaid purchase price. View "O'Connor v. Kearny Junction, LLC" on Justia Law

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Lionel Simeus filed a complaint against RGR Company LLC with the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights for housing discrimination in violation of section 11.06.020(b) of the Lincoln Municipal Code and 42 U.S.C. 3604(b) of the federal Fair Housing Act. The Commission determined that RGR discriminated against Simeus on the basis of race and national origin and, on behalf of Simeus, filed a charge of discrimination against RGR. After a hearing, the Commission found in favor of Simeus. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission did not establish by a preponderance of the evidence that RGR’s proffered reasons for its negative treatment of Simeus were a pretext for discrimination or that Simeus was the victim of intentional discrimination. View "RGR Co., LLC v. Lincoln Comm’n on Human Rights" on Justia Law