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Northeast Nebraska Public Power District v. Nebraska Public Power District

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

June 27, 2017

Northeast Nebraska Public Power District, appellee and cross-appellant,
v.
Nebraska Public Power District, appellant and cross-appellee.

         1. Contracts: Appeal and Error. The construction of a contract is a question of law, and is reviewed de novo.

         2. Summary Judgment: Appeal and Error. An appellate court will affirm a lower court's granting of summary judgment if the pleadings and admitted evidence show that there is no genuine issue as to any material facts or as to the ultimate inferences that may be drawn from the facts and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         3. ___: ___ .In reviewing a summary judgment, an appellate court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the judgment was granted, and gives that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences deducible from the evidence.

         4. Declaratory Judgments. A declaratory judgment action is ripe for judicial determination if the issue presented is fit for judicial determination and would result in significant harm if review were delayed.

         5. Courts: Judgments: Damages. A court may proceed to the merits of a case where the issues presented are largely legal in nature, the issue may be resolved without further factual development, or judicial resolution will largely settle the parties' dispute; and significant harm applies to both actual damages, pecuniary or otherwise, and also the heightened uncertainty and resulting behavior modification that may result from delayed resolution.

         6. Pretrial Procedure: Appeal and Error. On a discovery issue, the district court's ruling is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.

         7. Contracts. The meaning of a contract and whether a contract is ambiguous are questions of law.

         [24 Neb.App. 838] 8. Contracts: Words and Phrases. A contract is ambiguous when a word, phrase, or provision in the contract has, or is susceptible of, at least two reasonable but conflicting interpretations or meanings.

         9. Contracts. If the terms of a contract are clear, a court may not resort to rules of construction and must accord clear terms their plain and ordinary meaning as an ordinary or reasonable person would understand them.

         10. ___ . The fact that the parties suggest opposing meanings of a disputed instrument does not compel the conclusion that the instrument is ambiguous.

         11. Judgments: Appeal and Error. When reviewing questions of law, an appellate court has an obligation to resolve the questions independently of the conclusion reached by the trial court.

         Appeal from the District Court for Wayne County: James G. Kube, Judge. Affirmed.

          Kile W. Johnson and Corey J. Wasserburger, of Johnson. Flodman, Guenzel & Widger, and John C. McClure, of Nebraska Public Power District, for appellant.

          Steven D. Davidson and David C. Levy, of Baird Holm, L.L.P, for appellee.

          Inbody, Riedmann, and Arterburn, Judges.

          Arterburn, Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) appeals and Northeast Nebraska Public Power District (Northeast) cross-appeals from an order entered by the district court for Wayne County granting summary judgment in favor of Northeast and denying NPPD's motion for summary judgment. On appeal, NPPD argues the district court erred in overruling NPPD's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, overruling NPPD's motion to compel, interpreting the relevant contract provisions, failing to find that equitable estoppel did not give rise to a cause of action, and granting summary judgment in favor of Northeast. On cross-appeal, ...


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