A-13-0689) Sam Christiansen v. County of Douglas, et al. (Appellants)
A-13-0691) Rich McShane v. County of Douglas, et al. (Appellants)
Douglas County, Judge Gary B. Randall
Attorneys: Joel Bacon, Gary L. Young, Jefferson Downing, Thomas P. McCarty (Keating O’Gara Nedved & Peter PCLLO) (Appellees/Cross-Appellants) --- Bernard J. Monbouquette (County Attorney’s Office)
Civil: Contracts, estoppel; declaratory and injunctive relief
Proceedings below: After a trial to the court, the district court found that a contractual obligation existed based on estoppel and ratification, and entered judgment for the plaintiffs. The district court enjoined the County from treating the members of the retired employees class differently that active employees regarding the percentage of health insurance premiums to be paid for their participation in the County health plan. The order awarded damages of $1,005,223.51 and attorney fees of $178,703.94 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The County filed a Petition to Bypass the Court of Appeals which was granted by the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Issues: 1. The trial court erred in exercising jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' claims despite their failure to comply with the mandatory, jurisdictional provisions of the Nebraska county contract claim statute. 2. The trial court erred in finding sufficient evidence of equitable estoppel to create a binding legal contract between Douglas County and certain retired County employees concerning the share of the health insurance premium that the retirees would pay after retirement. 3. The trial court erred in finding that the Douglas County Board ratified certain representations by County employees concerning the share of health insurance premiums that retirees would pay in order to participate after retirement. 4. The trial court erred in finding that various representations concerning health insurance premiums created a vested contractual obligation on the County to its retirees. 5. The trial court erred in finding that the County Board's Resolution of September 29, 2009, was a violation of Article I section l6 of the Nebraska Constitution, and Article I section l0 of the United States Constitution. 6. The trial court erred in finding that the County Board's Resolution impaired its obligation to its retirees and was a violation of the constitutional Contracts Savings clause, thus entitling certain retirees to Section 1983 liability and damages. 7. The trial court erred in finding commonality, and then certifying a class of plaintiffs, among former Douglas County employees who retired prior to January 1, 2010.
Cross- Appeal: l. The District Court erred in granting summary judgment to Douglas County on
Appellees' claim that a contractual obligation arose under the Halpin rule. 2. The District Court erred in failing to find a contract arose under the Halpin rule. 3. The District Court erred in failing to rule that a contract arose via ratification.