Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hill v. AMMC, Inc.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

June 29, 2018

Michelle M. Hill, Appellant,
v.
AMMC, Inc., doing business as Morrissey Motor Company, Appellee.

         1. Motions to Dismiss: Summary Judgment: Pleadings. When matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, a motion to dismiss is treated as one for summary judgment.

         2. Summary Judgment: Appeal and Error. An appellate court will affirm a lower court's grant of summary judgment if the pleadings and admitted evidence show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact 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. Judgments: Claim Preclusion: Issue Preclusion: Appeal and Error. The applicability of claim and issue preclusion is a question of law. On a question of law, an appellate court reaches a conclusion independent of the court below.

         4. Judgments: Jurisdiction: Claim Preclusion. Under Nebraska law, claim preclusion bars relitigation of any right, fact, or matter directly addressed or necessarily included in a former adjudication if (1) the former judgment was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, (2) the former judgment was a final judgment, (3) the former judgment was on the merits, and (4) the same parties or their privies were involved in both actions.

         5. Judgments: Claim Preclusion: States: Courts. A Nebraska state court must apply federal law to determine the preclusive effect of a federal court judgment.

         6. Judgments: Jurisdiction: Claim Preclusion: States: Courts. For judgments in federal question jurisdiction cases, federal claim preclusion law applies to the analysis, but for judgments in federal diversity jurisdiction cases, federal common law applies to the preclusion analysis. Federal common law, in turn, incorporates the rules of preclusion applied by state courts in the state in which the federal diversity court sits.

         [300 Neb. 413] 7. Claim Preclusion: Final Orders: States: Courts. Under federal law as stated by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, claim preclusion bars the relitigation of a claim if the prior judgment was a final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction and if the same cause of action and the same parties or their privies were involved in both cases.

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

          Joy Shiffermiller, of Shiffermiller Law Office, PC, L.L.O., for appellant.

          Robert S. Keith and Philip O. Cusic, of Engles, Ketcham, Olson & Keith, PC, for appellee.

          Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, and Papik, JJ., and Welch, Judge.

          STACY, J.

         The Lancaster County District Court dismissed an action filed by Michelle M. Hill, finding it was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. Hill filed this timely appeal. We affirm.

         I. FACTS

         1. Hill's 2016 Complaint

         On July 14, 2016, Hill filed a complaint in the district court for Lancaster County against her former employer, AMMC, Inc., doing business as Morrissey Motor Company. The complaint presented two claims: one alleging a violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, [1] and the other alleging "wrongful discharge ... in violation of Nebraska law and public policy."

         According to the factual allegations of Hill's complaint, she was hired by AMMC in May 2014. AMMC sold motor vehicles, and Hill alleged that during the course of her employment she was (1) subjected to severe and pervasive sexual [300 Neb. 414] comments by a coworker in violation of title VII and (2) asked to physically alter customers' credit scores and indicate to financing companies that vehicles subject to purchase by AMMC customers were "fully loaded" when the vehicles actually were not. The complaint alleged Hill was constructively discharged in October 2014 when she resigned rather than falsify records.

         Hill's complaint alleged she had filed "charges" with both the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The complaint alleged the EEOC issued a right to sue letter on July 6, 2016, but was silent as to any final action taken by the NEOC.

         On August 17, 2016, AMMC removed Hill's action to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. After the action was removed, AMMC filed a motion to dismiss Hill's state law wrongful discharge claim, arguing it was time barred under the statute of limitations in the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA).[2] Specifically, AMMC argued Hill failed to file her state law claim within 90 days of the NEOC's final action in the case.[3] At the hearing on the motion to dismiss, evidence was received without objection, so the federal court treated the motion as one for partial summary judgment.[4]

         Hill resisted the motion, arguing her state law claim was not brought under the NFEPA, but instead was a common-law tort claim subject to a 4-year statute of limitations. In an order entered October 7, 2016, the federal court granted summary judgment in favor of AMMC on Hill's state law wrongful discharge claim, specifically finding the claim was governed by the NFEPA and was not a general state law tort claim for wrongful discharge. Hill's title VII claim remained pending in the federal court.

         [300 Neb. 415] 2. Hill's 2017 Complaint

         Approximately 5 months later, on March 1, 2017, Hill filed the instant complaint against AMMC in the district court for Lancaster County. Her complaint alleged only one claim: that AMMC wrongfully discharged Hill "in violation of Nebraska law and public policy." The factual allegations regarding wrongful discharge were substantially identical to those alleged in her 2016 complaint. However, the 2017 complaint contained additional detail regarding the illegality of the actions AMMC allegedly asked Hill to take regarding customers' credit scores and vehicle financing. Specifically, Hill's 2017 complaint alleged the actions AMMC asked her to take would have amounted to forgery under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-603 (Reissue 2016) and would have violated Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-619 (Reissue 2016), which prohibits issuing a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a financial transaction device.

         AMMC moved to dismiss the 2017 complaint, asserting it failed to state a claim under Neb. Ct. R. Pldg. § 6-1112(b)(6). AMMC argued the state law claim was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion, because the federal court had already decided the claim on the merits and dismissed it as time barred.

         A hearing on AMMC's motion was held, and evidence was offered by both parties and received without objection. The court concluded Hill's wrongful discharge claim was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. It specifically found the federal court's dismissal of Hill's state law claim was a final judgment on the merits, was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, involved the same issues, and involved the same parties. The district court subsequently entered an order dismissing the complaint and taxing costs to Hill.

         Hill filed this timely appeal, which we moved to our docket ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.