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Lowman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

February 26, 2016

OPAL LOWMAN AND DAVID LOWMAN, APPELLANTS,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLEE

Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: JOSEPH S. TROIA, Judge.

Ronald J. Palagi and Donna S. Colley for appellants.

Paul M. Shotkoski and Jacqueline M. DeLuca, of Fraser Stryker, P.C., L.L.O., for appellee.

HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, MILLER-LERMAN, CASSEL, and STACY, JJ. CASSEL, J., concurring.

OPINION

Page 471

Heavican, C.J.

INTRODUCTION

Opal Lowman and her husband, David Lowman, sued State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm) for injuries Opal suffered in an automobile accident. The jury entered a verdict for the Lowmans, but awarded no damages. The Lowmans appeal. We affirm.

[292 Neb. 883] FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Opal was injured in an automobile accident on May 8, 2010, when a vehicle driven by Carla Gibbs collided with Lowman's vehicle. On November 9, 2012, the Lowmans filed an amended complaint against State Farm, seeking damages for Opal's injuries. State Farm provided the Lowmans' underinsured motorist coverage.

Prior to trial, State Farm admitted that Gibbs was negligent. The matter went to trial on the question of causation and damages. At trial, Lowman withdrew her claim for loss of earning capacity and admitted that all of her medical bills had been paid. The Lowmans' counsel argued only that Opal was entitled to damages for pain and suffering.

The matter was submitted to the jury. The jury was instructed that in order to recover, the Lowmans must prove that the accident was the proximate cause of " some damage" to Opal and David, and the nature and extent of that damage. The instruction continued:

If the Plaintiffs [the Lowmans] have met their burden of proof, then your verdict must be for the Plaintiffs, and you should complete Verdict Form No. 1.
If the Plaintiffs have not met their burden of proof, then your verdict must be for the Defendant [State Farm] and you ...

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