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Wayne L. Ryan Revocable Trust v. Constance "Connie" Ryan and Streck, Inc.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

September 15, 2017

Wayne L. Ryan Revocable Trust et al., appellees.
Constance "Connie" Ryan and Streck, Inc., appellees, and Tlmothy Coffey et al., all in their individual Capacities and in their Capacities as Qualified Beneficiaries of the Elleen Ryan Revocable Trust, appellants.

         1. Interventions: Appeal and Error. Whether a party has the right to intervene in a proceeding is a question of law. On a question of law, an appellate court is obligated to reach a conclusion independent of the determination reached by the court below.

         2. Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Before reaching the legal issues presented for review, it is the duty of an appellate court to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the matter before it.

         3. Interventions: Final Orders: Appeal and Error. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1315 (Reissue 2016) does not supersede Nebraska's final order jurisprudence regarding orders denying intervention.

         4. ___: ___: ___ . An order denying intervention is a final, appealable order.

         5. Interventions. As a prerequisite to intervention under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-328 (Reissue 2016), the intervenor must have a direct and legal interest of such character that the intervenor will lose or gain by the direct operation and legal effect of the judgment which may be rendered in the action.

         6.. An indirect, remote, or conjectural interest in the result of a suit is not enough to establish intervention as a matter of right.

         7. Interventions: Pleadings. Simply having a claim that arises out of the same facts as the claims at issue in the litigation does not constitute having a sufficient interest to support intervention.

         [297 Neb. 762] 8. ___: ___ .A person seeking to intervene must allege facts showing that he or she possesses the requisite legal interest in the subject matter of the action.

         9. ___: ___. For purposes of ruling on a motion for leave to intervene, a court must assume that the intervener's factual allegations set forth in the complaint are true.

         10. ___: ___ . A prospective intervenor can raise his or her claims or defenses, but those claims or defenses must involve the same core issue as the claims between the existing parties. Intervenors can raise only issues that sustain or oppose the respective contentions of the original parties.

         11. Interventions. An intervenor is bound by any determinations that were made before he or she intervened in the action. In other words, an intervenor must take the suit as he or she finds it.

         12. ___ . It is generally understood that the right to intervene does not carry with it the right to relitigate matters already determined, and an intervenor is admitted to the proceeding as it stands with respect to any pending issues.

         13. Appeal and Error. An issue not presented to or decided by the trial court is not appropriate for consideration on appeal.

         Appeal from the District Court for Sarpy County: William B. Zastera, Judge. Affirmed.

          Paul Heimann, Bonnie M. Boryca, and Karen M. Keeler, of Erickson & Sederstrom, PC, for appellants.

          Thomas H. Dahlk and Victoria H. Buter, of Kutak Rock. L.L.P., and Ronald E. Reagan, of Reagan, Melton & Delaney, L.L.P, for appellee Streck, Inc.

          Larry E. Welch, Jr., and Damien J. Wright, of Welch Law Firm, PC, for appellee Constance "Connie" Ryan.

          Heavican, C.J., Wright, Cassel, Stacy, and Funke, JJ.

          Per Curiam.

         This case involves an appeal from an order denying intervention in a corporate dissolution action. Because we find the intervenors are seeking only to relitigate matters [297 Neb. 763] already decided by the court, we affirm the order denying intervention.


         1. Parties

         Streck, Inc., is a Nebraska corporation with its principal place of business in La Vista, Sarpy County, Nebraska. The company manufactures hematology, immunology, and molecular biology products for clinical and research laboratories.

         Streck was founded by Dr. Wayne L. Ryan in 1971. Dr. Ryan is one of Streck's directors and is the sole beneficiary of the Wayne L. Ryan Revocable Trust (RRT), which owns 33 percent of Streck's voting stock and a majority of Streck's nonvoting stock. The sole trustee of the RRT is Dr. Ryan's daughter Carol Ryan. Dr. Ryan is also the primary beneficiary of his late wife's trust, the Eileen Ryan Revocable Trust (ERRT), which owns about 40 percent of Streck's nonvoting stock.

         Another of Dr. Ryan's daughters, Constance Ryan (Connie), is the president and chief executive officer of Streck. Connie holds a majority of Streck's voting stock and about 8 percent of its nonvoting stock.

         Stacy Ryan, one of the intervenors in this action, is also one of Dr. Ryan's daughters. Stacy redeemed her voting and nonvoting shares of Streck several years ago, but she remains an income beneficiary of the ERRT, which, as stated previously, owns nonvoting shares of Streck.

         2. Lawsuit Between RRT and Streck

         In October 2014, the RRT filed suit against Streck and Connie in the Sarpy County District Court. The suit alleged shareholder oppression under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 21-20, 162 (Reissue 2012) and breach of fiduciary duty. The relief sought ...

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