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Hall v. County of Lancaster (***)

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Friday, March 7, 2014

S-13-0724, Jeff Hall v. The County of Lancaster (Appellant) and Norris School District No. 160 (Cross-Appellant)

Lancaster County, Judge Steven D. Burns

Attorneys: Richard C. Grabow (County Attorney’s Office) (County of Lancaster) — Jeanelle R. Lust (Knudsen, Berkheimer, Richardson & Endacott, LLP) (Norris School District) and Terry R. Wittler (Cline Williams Wright Johnson & Oldfather, LLP) and Vince Powers (Vincent M. Powers & Associates) (Jeff Hall)

Civil: Negligence

Proceedings Below: Following trial and a motion to alter or amend the judgment, the district court stated that the negligence of Norris School District’s bus driver was 50 percent and, thus, denied Norris’ claims against Jeff Hall and the County of Lancaster. The court found that Hall suffered $1,100,000 in damages but reduced the damages by 30 percent for Hall’s negligence. The court found that the percentage of negligence of Norris and the County was 70 percent and reasoned that apportionment of damages between Norris and the County was not appropriate. Thus, the court entered judgment in favor of Hall and against Norris and the County, jointly and severally, in the amount of $770,000.

Issues: The County assigns that the district court erred in (1) determining that the County’s sign inspection policies and documentation were so inadequate as to give the County constructive notice of a missing stop sign, (2) determining that the County’s failure to adopt an adequate sign policy was a proximate cause of Hall’s damages, (3) failing to determine that the acts of Hall and the school bus driver were efficient intervening causes for the claims of Norris and Hall against the County so that any negligence against the County could not be considered the proximate cause of Hall’s or Norris’ damages, and (4) failing to determine that the County maintained its sovereign immunity for discretionary policy decisions made in relation to sign inspections and related documentation.

On cross-appeal, Norris alleges that the court erred in (1) failing to allocate Hall’s damages into economic and noneconomic damages, (2) failing to allocate percentages of fault to Norris and the County on Hall’s claims, and (3) failing to allocate more than 50 percent fault to Hall as a result of failing to make findings on violations of the Nebraska Rules of the Road.

This page was last modified on Friday, March 7, 2014