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Applied Underwriters, Inc. v. S.E.B. Services of New York, Inc.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

July 21, 2017

Applied Underwriters, Inc., a Nebraska corporation, and Applied Risk Services, Inc., appellants,
v.
S.E.B. Services of New York, Inc., a New York CORPORATION, AND 20th CENTURY SERVICES of New York, Inc., a New York corporation, appellees.

         1. Appeal and Error. An appellate court is not obligated to engage in an analysis that is not necessary to adjudicate the case and controversy before it.

         2. Moot Question: Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Mootness is a justiciability doctrine that operates to prevent courts from exercising jurisdiction, and an appellate court reviews mootness determinations under the same standard of review as other jurisdictional questions.

         3. Standing: Jurisdiction: Parties. Standing is a jurisdictional component of a party's case because only a party who has standing may invoke the jurisdiction of a court.

         4. Jurisdiction: Judgments. A jurisdictional issue that does not involve a factual dispute presents a question of law.

         5. Moot Question: Words and Phrases. A moot case is one which seeks to determine a question that no longer rests upon existing facts or rights-i.e., a case in which the issues presented are no longer alive.

         6. Moot Question. Mootness refers to events occurring after the filing of a suit which eradicate the requisite personal interest in the resolution of the dispute that existed at the beginning of the litigation.

         7. Moot Question: Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Although mootness does not prevent appellate jurisdiction, it is a justiciability doctrine that can prevent courts from exercising jurisdiction.

         8. Moot Question. As a general rule, a moot case is subject to summary dismissal.

         [297 Neb. 247] 9. ___ . The central question in a mootness analysis is whether changes in circumstances that prevailed at the beginning of litigation have forestalled any occasion for meaningful relief.

         10. Parties: Standing. The question of standing can be raised by any party, or the court, at any time during the proceeding.

         11. Standing: Jurisdiction: Parties. Standing refers to whether a party had, at the commencement of the litigation, a personal stake in the outcome of the litigation that would warrant a court's or tribunal's exercising its jurisdiction and remedial powers on the party's behalf.

         12. Standing: Words and Phrases. Standing involves a real interest in the cause of action, meaning some legal or equitable right, title, or interest in the subject matter of the controversy.

         13. Standing: Claims: Parties. To have standing, a litigant must assert the litigant's own rights and interests, and cannot rest a claim on the legal rights or interests of third parties.

         14. Standing: Jurisdiction: Proof. A party invoking a court's or tribunals' jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing the elements of standing.

         15. Pleadings: Standing. At the pleading stage, the standard for determining the sufficiency of a complaint to allege standing is fairly liberal.

         16. Actions: Breach of Contract. As a general rule, one who is neither a party to a contract nor an agent of a party to a contract has no rights under the contract, and cannot bring an action for breach thereof.

         17. Standing: Jurisdiction. The defect of standing is a defect of subject matter jurisdiction. And when questions relating to both subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction are present in a case, the court must first determine the question of subject matter jurisdiction.

         Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: Kimberly Miller Pankonin, Judge. Affirmed.

          Jeffrey A. Silver for appellants.

          Stephen M. Bruckner and Patrick S. Cooper, of Fraser Stryker, PC, L.L.O., for appellees.

          Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch, and Funke, JJ.

          STACY, J.

         Applied Underwriters, Inc. (Applied), and Applied Risk Services, Inc. (ARS), appeal from an order dismissing their breach of contract action against S.E.B. Services of New York, [297 Neb. 248] Inc., and 20th Century Services of New York, Inc. (collectively S.E.B.). The district court dismissed the action for lack of personal jurisdiction over S.E.B. and alternatively found that Nebraska was an inconvenient forum. We affirm the dismissal, but on different grounds.

         FACTS

         Applied is a Nebraska corporation located in Omaha, Nebraska. It markets and administers workers' compensation insurance programs nationwide. S.E.B. is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in New York. S.E.B. provides security services and security guards in at least 22 states.

         In 2014, S.E.B.'s third-party insurance broker contacted Applied to discuss obtaining workers' compensation coverage for S.E.B. Subsequently, S.E.B. entered into a "Reinsurance Participation Agreement" (RPA) with Applied Underwriters Captive Risk Assurance Company, Inc. (AUCRAC). AUCRAC is not a party to this litigation. A "true and accurate copy" of the RPA was attached to the complaint in this matter. Paragraph 8 of the RPA recites that ARS is the "billing agent" for AUCRAC and is ...


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