Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Owner of easement for sewage disposal since the late 60’s disputed relocation of the lagoons; Court ordered adjacent landowner to rewrite the easement but did not award any other damages or relief; Nebraska Court of Appeals upholds awarding costs to the defending adjacent landownersR & S Investments v. Auto Auctions, 15 Neb. App. 267 Filed December 19, 2006. No. A-04-1098 Technically the easement owner “won” the case but the judge agreed only that it should get a rewritten easement from the landowner who was reconstructing and relocating the lagoons to meet current state environmental regs. The easement owner asked for costs but the court awarded costs to the defendants. Nebraska court of appeals affirms awarding costs to the side that was the nominal losing party R&S asserts that the district court erred in taxing costs of the action to R&S. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1708 (Reissue 1995) provides that "[w]here it is not otherwise provided by this and other statutes, costs shall be allowed of course to the plaintiff, upon a judgment in his favor, in actions for the recovery of money only, or for the recovery of specific real or personal property." Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1711 (Reissue 1995) provides, in relevant part, that "[i]n other actions the court may award and tax costs, and apportion the same between the parties on the same or adverse sides, as in its discretion it may think right and equitable." In equity actions, taxation of costs rests in the discretion of the trial court. Hein v. M & N Feed Yards, Inc., 205 Neb. 691, 289 N.W.2d 756 (1980); Ehlers v. Campbell, 159 Neb. 328, 66 N.W.2d 585 (1954). A judicial abuse of discretion requires that the reasons or rulings of a trial judge be clearly untenable, unfairly depriving a litigant of a substantial right and a just result. City of Lincoln v. Realty Trust Group., 270 Neb. 587, 705 N.W.2d 432 (2005). The present action, of course, is an equity action, and we find no abuse of discretion in the district court's taxation of the costs of this action to R&S

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