Sunday, May 28, 2006
Nebraska Supreme Court vacates district court contempt order in trade secret case that included additional equitable remedies and attorney fees because contempt finding did not state a sanction for non-compliance and the lack of a sanction did not allow habeas relief to defendantSmeal Fire Apparatus Co. v. Kreikemeier, S-03-354, S-05-407, 271 Neb.616HTML In trade secret case the District Court found the defendant in contempt for continuing to use the plaintiff's trade secrets. The District Court fashioned a equitable remedies and awarded attorney fees and costs to the Plaintiff. The Nebraska Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal with respect to the district court's finding of contempt, but nonetheless affirmed the allowance of $73,500 in attorney fees and costs. The Defendants also sought habeas corpus in the Supreme Court to challenge the District Court's contempt finding. The Supreme Court orders the appeals dismissed altogether as the district court lacked jurisdiction to order equitable relief as a condition to purging its finding of contempt and that the remaining condition of the purge plan was not accompanied by a threatened sanction and was not reviewable on appeal. For those reasons, the Supreme Court vacates the equitable elements of the purge plan, vacates the related award of fees and costs, and dismisses the appeal in its entirety. We vacate those aspects of the district court's order affording equitable relief to Smeal, because they exceed the district court's jurisdiction in a contempt action. The remaining condition of the purge plan, payment of attorney fees and costs, is not subject to a sanction for noncompliance and is not appealable, but we also vacate the award of attorney fees and costs, as it is inextricable from the court's order affording equitable relief.
Posted by stan_sipple at 5:50 AM