Friday, September 21, 2007

Nice recovery for the losing attorney who didn't bother to defend the summary judgment motion against his client: Plaintiff's deceased husband suffered paralyzing injuries in an ATV accident while on a work detail cutting and spraying weeds on a Natural Resources District bike trail. Weichman v. Lower Platte South NRD, A-05-1147, 15 Neb. App. 946. At the time the deceased husband was an inmate at the Lincoln Community Corrections Center. Plaintiff representing the estate continued their suit against both the Natural Resources District as a political subdivision tort claim action action and the Nebraska Department of Corrections as a state tort claim action. The Lancaster County District Court dismissed the the Department of Corrections during a summary judgment hearing that the plaintiff's attorney did not attend. The district court ruled the Nebraska State Tort Claim Act's discretionary function exception(§ 81-8,219(1)) immunized the State from responsibility for the inmate's injuries. Plaintiff appealed the Department of Corrections dismissal as a final order. Nebraska Court of Appeals, and reverses. "Even though Plaintiff’s counsel failed to appear at the summary judgment hearing and to contradict or contest DCS’ evidence, there are a number of unresolved facts—remembering that on summary judgment, we view the evidence most favorably to Weichman...(the) evidence suggests that contrary to a statement in (the correctional officer’s) affidavit, his responsibility on June 6, 2002, was not limited to “security,” and creates an issue of material fact (as to whether the discretionary function exception applied). "if the corrections officer trains instructs and supervises the inmates (on the work detail) for NR D, then whether the discretionary function or duty exception from liability applies is a material issue of fact for trial."

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