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Crozier v. Brownell-Talbot School

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

August 22, 2017

Paula M. Crozier, appellant,
v.
Brownell-Talbot School, A Nebraska Nonprofit Corporation, Appellee.

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

         2. ___: ___. 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.

         3. Contracts. Whether a contract is ambiguous is a question of law.

         4. Appeal and Error. An appellate court resolves questions of law independently of the conclusions reached by the trial court.

         5. 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.

         6. Contracts. When a court has determined that ambiguity exists in a document, an interpretative meaning for the ambiguous word, phrase, or provision in the document is a question of fact for the fact finder.

         7. Contracts: Parol Evidence. A written instrument is open to explanation by parol evidence when its terms are susceptible to two constructions or where the language employed is vague or ambiguous.

         8. Contracts: Juries: Courts. When the terms of a contract are in dispute and the real intentions of the parties cannot be determined from the words used, the jury, and not the court, should determine the issue from all the facts and circumstances.

         [25 Neb.App. 2] 9. Contracts: Summary Judgment. When it is established that a contract is ambiguous, the meaning of its terms is a matter of fact to be determined in the same manner as other questions of fact which preclude summary judgment.

         10. Termination of Employment. Unless constitutionally, statutorily, or contractually prohibited, an employer, without incurring liability, may terminate an at-will employee at any time with or without reason.

         11. Employment Contracts: Termination of Employment: Good Cause. A contract for employment for a defined term cannot lawfully be terminated prior to the expiration of that term without good cause.

         12. Termination of Employment: Good Cause: Words and Phrases. "Good cause" for an employee's dismissal is that which a reasonable employer, acting in good faith, would regard as good and sufficient reason for terminating the employee's services, as distinguished from arbitrary whim or caprice.

         13. Termination of Employment: Good Cause. Whether good cause existed for discharging an employee is a question of fact.

         14. Trial: Evidence. Where the facts are undisputed or are such that reasonable minds can draw but one conclusion therefrom, a question can be determined as a matter of law.

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


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