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Liljestrand v. Dell Enterprises, Inc.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

January 24, 2014

Adam Liljestrand, appellee,
v.
Dell Enterprises, Inc., doing business as The Dundee Dell, appellant.

Page 576

Appeal from the Workers' Compensation Court: THOMAS E. STINE, Judge.

Reversed and remanded for a new trial.

Thomas M. Locher and Joseph J. Kehm, of Locher, Pavelka, Dostal, Braddy & Hammes, L.L.C., and, on brief, Robert H. Grennan, Omaha, for appellant.

Ronald E. Frank and Harry A. Hoch III, Omaha, of Sodoro, Daly, Shomaker & Selde, P.C., L.L.O., for appellee.

Heavican, C.J., Wright, Connolly, Stephan, Mccormack, Miller-Lerman, and Cassel, JJ.

Syllabus

1. Appeal and Error. The construction of a mandate issued by an appellate court presents a question of law.

2. Constitutional Law: Due Process. Whether the procedures afforded an individual comport with constitutional requirements for procedural due process presents a question of law.

3. Courts: Appeal and Error. An appellate court independently reviews questions of law decided by a lower court.

4. Judges: Evidence. Generally, a successor judge may not make a decision based on conflicting evidence that a predecessor judge heard.

5. Trial: Judges: Due Process: Witnesses. Due process entitles a litigant to have all the evidence submitted to a single judge who can see the witnesses testify and, thus, weigh their testimony and judge their credibility.

Connolly, J.

SUMMARY

This workers' compensation appeal presents a due process issue. The original trial judge retired while the case was on appeal. The original trial judge found that the appellee, Adam Liljestrand, was permanently and totally disabled. The appellant, Dell Enterprises, Inc., doing business as The Dundee Dell (Dell), sought review with a three-judge review panel. The review panel remanded the cause because it was not clear how the judge had treated the presumption of correctness afforded to the vocational rehabilitation specialist's opinion of [287 Neb. 243] Liljestrand's disability. Dell appealed, and the Nebraska Court of Appeals

Page 577

affirmed. [1]But it left it to the chief judge of the Workers' Compensation Court how to instruct the ...


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