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McCord & Burns Law Firm, L.L.P. v. Piuze

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

S-12-0877, McCord & Burns Law Firm, L.L.P. (Appellant) v. Michael J. Piuze and Michael J. Piuze, PC, d/b/a/ Law Offices of Michael J. Piuze (Appellee/Cross-Appellant)

Lancaster County, Judge John A. Colborn

Attorneys: Maren Lynn Chaloupka (Chaloupka Holyoke Snyder Chaloupka Longoria & Kishiyama PCLLO) and Jeffry D. Patterson (Bartle & Geier) (Appellant) --- Robert W. Mullin (Lieben Whitted Houghton Slowiaczek & Cavanaugh PCLLO)

Civil: Fee division agreement; breach of implied contract, quantum meruit

Proceedings below: This case was previously before the Supreme Court. See McCord & Burns Law Firm, L.L.P. v. Piuze, 276 Neb. 163 (2008) (Judgment reversed). Appellant then filed an amended complaint adding alternative claims of breach of implied contract and quantum meruit.  A second amended complaint restated the express contract claim, alternate claims of contract implied in fact and a contract implied in law and added a claim of joint venture. A jury found four Piuze and against Appellant on both the joint venture claim and the quantum meruit claim. Appellant moved the district court for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial. Those were overruled and the court entered judgment according to the jury’s verdict.

Issues: The district court erred in (1) overruling Appellant’s motion for directed verdict and overruling Appellant’s motion for judgment nothwithstanding the verdict; (2) failing to enter judgment for Appellant for one-half of the net supplemental attorney fee; (3) allowing defendants to withdraw their waiver of a jury trial; (4) erroneously instructing the jury on Appellant’s burden of proof regarding a special partnership/joint venture; (5) erroneously instructing the jury regarding the proof necessary to establish a joint venture; (6) refusing to instruct the jury on the duties of a partner toward a partnership; (7) ignoring its order on Appellant’s Motion in Limine regarding the testimony of defendants’ expert; (8) not allowing the jury to see and hear Penny Shipler’s recorded testimony. (9) No reasonable jury could conclude that Appellant was not entitled to a share of the attorney fee Shipler paid for appellate legal services.

Cross-Appeal: The district court erred in (1) failing to grant Piuze’s motion for summary judgment; (2) overruling Piuze’s motion for directed verdict at the close of Appellant’s case and at the close of all the evidence.

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