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Nesbitt v. Frakes

Supreme Court of Nebraska

May 18, 2018

Thomas Nesbitt, on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated nebraska state penitentiary segregated prisoners, appellant,
v.
Scott Frakes et al., appellees.

         1. Motions to Dismiss: Pleadings: Appeal and Error. A district court's grant of a motion to dismiss on the pleadings is reviewed de novo, accepting the allegations in the complaint as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.

         2. Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Before reaching the legal issues presented for review, an appellate court must determine whether it has jurisdiction.

         3. Courts: Jurisdiction. While it is not a constitutional prerequisite for jurisdiction, the existence of an actual case or controversy is necessary for the exercise of judicial power.

         4. Actions: Moot Question. An action becomes moot when the issues initially presented in the proceedings no longer exist or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome of the action.

         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. 9. Injunction: Intent. The purpose of an injunction is to restrain actions that have not yet been taken.

         [300 Neb. 2] 10. Injunction. Injunctive relief is preventive, prohibitory, or protective, and equity usually will not issue an injunction when the act complained of has been committed and the injury has been done.

         11. Declaratory Judgments: Moot Question. A declaratory judgment action becomes moot when the issues initially presented in the proceedings no longer exist or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome of the action.

         12. Declaratory Judgments: Justiciable Issues. At the time that the declaration is sought, there must be an actual justiciable issue from which the court can declare law as it applies to a given set of facts.

         13. Justiciable Issues. A justiciable issue requires a present, substantial controversy between parties having adverse legal interests susceptible to immediate resolution and capable of present judicial enforcement.

         14. Moot Question: Appeal and Error. An appellate court may choose to review an otherwise moot case under the public interest exception if it involves a matter affecting the public interest or when other rights or liabilities may be affected by its determination.

         15. Moot Question: Words and Phrases. The public interest exception requires a consideration of the public or private nature of the question presented, the desirability of an authoritative adjudication for future guidance of public officials, and the likelihood of future recurrence of the same or a similar problem.

         16. Moot Question: Appeal and Error. An application of the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine is inappropriate when the issues presented on appeal do not inherently evade appellate review.

         17. Class Actions. In order to justify class action treatment, there must exist both a question of common or general interest and numerous parties so as to make it impracticable to bring all the parties before the court.

         18. ___. In determining whether a class action is properly brought, considerable discretion is vested in the trial court.

         19. 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.

          Appeal from the District Court for Lancaster County: Jodi L. Nelson, Judge. Appeal dismissed.

          Thomas Nesbitt, pro se.

          Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Timothy R. Ertz for appellee.

         [300 Neb. 3] Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, and Cassel, JJ., and Luther and O'Gorman, District Judges.

          PER CURIAM.

         Thomas Nesbitt brought suit against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS), its director, and various other officials and employees of the DCS, alleging that the conditions at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP) violate his rights under Nebraska law and that his claims are representative of all inmates housed in the segregation units at the NSP.

         This is an appeal from an order dismissing Nesbitt's amended complaint for failing to state a cause of action. Because Nesbitt no longer resides at the NSP, this matter is moot and the appeal is dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         Nesbitt is an inmate with the DCS. At the time he filed his pro se complaint "for class action, declaratory, and injunctive relief, " he resided in a segregated unit at the NSP, located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nesbitt's complaint asserted state law claims based on a range of matters within the correctional facility's setting, including overcrowding, cell assignments, flooding, and inadequate showering conditions.

         Nesbitt, age 71, claims he suffers from a debilitating spinal condition which causes him sciatic nerve pain and restless leg syndrome. He claims, according to his medical diagnosis, he is required to sleep from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. every day in order to prevent paralysis. He asserts prison officials violate his rights when they allow the prison to become overpopu-lated and, as a result, place another ...


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