Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court held that “medical assistance” provided to Medicaid recipients includes costs for room and board and other “nonmedical” expenses at nursing facilities, and therefore, those costs can be recovered from the recipient’s estate. In this case, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a petition for allowance of a claim for services provided to the decedent while he resided at two different nursing homes. The county court sustained DHHS’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the services defined as room and board fell within the parameters of services provided under the Medical Assistance Act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that DHHS was statutorily authorized to recover the sums it paid for room and board costs and other expenses from the decedent’s estate. View "In re Estate of Vollmann" on Justia Law

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Brayden O. was a seventeen-year-old girl who suffered from Coffin-Lowry Syndrome and other disabilities. Brayden had been receiving home and community-based waiver services through the Medicaid division of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for almost a dozen years before the DHHS determined that Brayden no longer met the necessary qualifications for such services. Merie B., Brayden’s mother, appealed DHHS’ determination, which was affirmed after an administrative appeal hearing. The district court affirmed. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded with directions that the district court order DHHS to reinstate waiver services to Brayden, effective as of the date services were originally terminated. On remand, Merie requested reimbursement for expenses she incurred due to the wrongful termination of Brayden’s services, along with attorney fees. The district court granted the request and entered judgment against DHHS in the amount of $76,260.48. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court was without authority to expand the mandate in Merie B. I and hold an evidentiary hearing on Merie’s “Motion to Determine Expenses.” View "Merie B. on behalf of Brayden O. v. State" on Justia Law

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D.I. was committed for treatment as a dangerous sex offender under the Sex Offender Commitment Act (SOCA). The Supreme Court upheld the commitment. The Douglas County public defender’s office represented D.I. during the SOCA proceedings. Thereafter, D.I. filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus seeking immediate release from his commitment. At some point, attorney Ryan Stover began to represent D.I. and represented him for the remainder of the proceedings before the district court and the Supreme Court. The district court dismissed D.I.’s petition, and the Supreme Court affirmed. Stover subsequently filed an application for an order fixing attorney fees and expenses. The district court ordered Madison County to pay Stover’s fees and expenses in the amount of $6,259. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) statutes authorize the payment of attorney fees incurred by court-appointed counsel representing an indigent subject challenging his custody or treatment under the SOCA via a habeas petition; and (2) Stover’s fees were for services apparently performed in that capacity, and therefore, the district court properly ordered payment of attorney fees in this case. View "D.I. v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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After a hearing, the Mental Health Board of the Fourth Judicial District found that L.T. was a dangerous sex offender under Sex Offender Commitment Act and that inpatient treatment was the least restrictive alternative for him. On appeal, the district court concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the Board’s determination and that there was clear and convincing evidence that L.T. could be treated on an outpatient basis. The district court then ordered L.T. unconditionally discharged from commitment as a dangerous sex offender. The State sought to appeal the district court’s order pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 71-1214. L.T. filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, asserting that the State did not follow the proper appeal procedure and, therefore, failed to perfect its appeal. The Supreme Court agreed and dismissed the appeal, holding that the State failed to perfect an appeal under section 71-1214 and Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1912. View "In re Interest of L.T." on Justia Law

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Before Genevieve Franke’s death in 2014, she had been a resident of a nursing home. In 2013, Genevieve agreed to sell her farmland to her son John Franke at a price below its fair market value. Laurie Berggren, Genevieve's daughter, subsequently petitioned for the appointment of a conservator. The court appointed Laurie as Genevieve’s temporary conservator and Cornerstone Bank as Genevieve’s permanent conservator. Both Genevieve and John appealed. Before the parties filed briefs, Genevieve’s attorney filed a suggestion of death stating that Genevieve had died. Genevieve, through her attorney of record, sought an order to dismiss the appeal as moot and to vacate the county court’s order appointing a permanent conservator. John, in turn, moved for an order reviving the appeal. The Supreme Court overruled both of these motions, holding (1) Genevieve’s attorney has no standing to represent her in the Court after her death; (2) Genevieve’s death has abated John’s appeal, for which he has standing, because her competency and need for a conservator are moot issues; and (3) the abatement of John’s appeal does not require the Court to vacate the county court’s orders appointing a conservator. View "In re Conservatorship of Franke" on Justia Law

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This was the second appeal in this case. Doctor, who was licensed to practice medicine in Nebraska and Washington, entered into an assurance of compliance with the Attorney General due to unprofessional conduct. The assurance of compliance was made part of Doctor's public record. Consequently, Doctor alleged that the Washington Department of Health learned via public record of the assurance of compliance and initiated a disciplinary action against him. Doctor was also made ineligible with the American Board of Family Medicine. Doctor filed a complaint against the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General alleging that the Attorney General fraudulently and negligently misrepresented the adverse effects of the assurance of compliance. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, finding the misrepresentation claims to be contract claims subject to, and barred by, the State Contract Claims Act (Act). Doctor again appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Doctor's claims were subject to, and barred by, the Act. View "Zawaideh v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs." on Justia Law

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This was an appeal after summary judgment in a medical malpractice action. A kidney donor brought suit after his donated kidney was rendered useless by allegedly negligent medical treatment provided to the donee. At issue was whether a duty of care is owed to a kidney donor by the physicians providing posttransplant treatment to the donee. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the physicians. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, in this instance, a physician does not owe a duty of care to a kidney donor during the posttransplant treatment and care of the donee, and therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the defendants. View "Olson v. Wrenshall" on Justia Law

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Bradley Green, a paraplegic, sued Box Butte General Hospital after he fell and injured his left shoulder while admitted as a patient. The hospital allowed Green to have his shower chair brought from home and to attempt an unassisted transfer from his wheelchair to the shower chair. Green alleged the hospital was negligent and that it had failed to exercise a degree of skill and care ordinarily exercised by hospitals in the area or similarly situated areas. The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Green on liability and proximate cause and ultimately found damages of $3,733,022, which it capped at $1 million. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the district court erred in granting partial summary judgment, as Green failed to establish each element of his cause of action as a matter of law. View "Green v. Box Butte Gen. Hosp." on Justia Law

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The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provided Medicaid benefits for Virginia Lee Cushing during the final years of her life. After her death, DHHS filed a claim against Cushing's estate for recovery of the benefits pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 68-919. The personal representative of the estate appealed from an order of the county court allowing the claim and awarding interest. At issue on appeal was whether DHHS timely presented its claim and, if so, whether it was proved as a matter of law. The Supreme Court concluded the claim was both timely presented and proved as a matter of law but modified the award of interest. View "In re Estate of Cushing" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice case, Husband alleged that Defendants, several physicians, a hospital and others, caused his Wife's death by negligently failing to administer an expensive drug to treat her hypertension. Because the drug needed to be administered indefinitely and could cause deadly symptoms if its administration was interrupted, Wife's treating physicians decided not to administer the drug until Wife's insurer approved it or another source of payment could be found. Wife died before either happened. The jury returned a general verdict for Defendant. Husband then filed a motion for a new trial, which the court granted based on its conclusion that Defendants' expert testimony was inconsistent with the standard of care. At issue on appeal was whether under the circumstances of this case, an expert medical witness is permitted to opine that under the customary standard of care, a physician should consider the health risks to a patient who may be unable to pay for continued treatment. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting a new trial, holding that such testimony is admissible and that, as a matter of law, it could not be said that Defendants' decisions in this case violated the standard of care.