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Lindsay International Sales & Service, LLC v. Wegener

Supreme Court of Nebraska

September 7, 2018

Lindsay International Sales & Service, LLC, appellee.
v.
Michael J. Wegener, an individual, and Jerome Pribil, an individual, appellants.

         1. Directed Verdict: Appeal and Error.

         In reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion for directed verdict, an appellate court must treat the motion as an admission of the truth of all competent evidence submitted on behalf of the party against whom the motion is directed; such being the case, the party against whom the motion is directed is entitled to have every controverted fact resolved in its favor and to have the benefit of every inference which can reasonably be deduced from the evidence.

         2. Directed Verdict: Evidence.

         A directed verdict is proper at the close of all the evidence only when reasonable minds cannot differ and can draw but one conclusion from the evidence, that is, when an issue should be decided as a matter of law.

         3. Jury Instructions.

         Whether a jury instruction is correct is a question of law.

         4. Judgments: Appeal and Error.

         When reviewing questions of law, an appellate court has an obligation to resolve the questions independently of the conclusion reached by the trial court.

         5. Rules of Evidence.

         In proceedings where the Nebraska Evidence Rules apply, the admissibility of evidence is controlled by such rules; judicial discretion is involved only when the rules make discretion a factor in determining admissibility.

         6. Trial: Evidence: Appeal and Error.

         A trial court has the discretion to determine the relevancy and admissibility of evidence, and such determinations will not be disturbed on appeal unless they constitute an abuse of that discretion.

         7. Judges: Words and Phrases.

         A judicial abuse of discretion exists if the reasons or rulings of a trial judge are clearly untenable, unfairly [301 Neb. 2] depriving a litigant of a substantial right and denying just results in matters submitted for disposition.

         8. Motions for New Trial: Appeal and Error.

         An appellate court reviews a denial of a motion for new trial for an abuse of discretion.

         9. Contracts: Words and Phrases.

         A lack of consideration means no contract is ever formed because no consideration exists or none was intended to pass. A failure of consideration, on the other hand, means the contract is valid when formed but becomes unenforceable because the performance bargained for has not been given.

         10. Directed Verdict: Appeal and Error.

         When it follows logically from a jury's findings that a theory on which a directed verdict was granted could not have been successful, the directed verdict cannot be said to have affected the outcome and is, at most, harmless error.

         11. Trial: Evidence.

         Evidence that is irrelevant is inadmissible.

         12. Evidence.

         Evidence is relevant if it has any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.

         13. __. Relevancy requires only that the degree of probativeness be something more than nothing.

          Appeal from the District Court for Platte County: Robert R. Steinke, Judge. Affirmed.

          Stephen L. Ahl and Krista M. Carlson, of Wolfe, Snowden, Hurd, Luers & Ahl, L.L.P., and Barry D. Geweke, of Stowell & Geweke, PC, L.L.O., for appellants.

          John M. Lingelbach and John V. Matson, of Koley Jessen, PC, L.L.O., for appellee.

          Heavican, C.J., Cassel, Stacy, Funke, and Papik, JJ., and Schreiner, District Judge.

          Papik, J.

         Lindsay International Sales & Service, LLC (Lindsay), sued Michael J. Wegener and Jerome Pribil in the district court for Platte County to collect amounts Lindsay claimed were due on personal guaranties. The district court granted Lindsay's motion for a directed verdict on certain affirmative defenses raised by Wegener and Pribil and instructed the jury [301 Neb. 3] accordingly. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Lindsay for the full amount sought. Wegener and Pribil now appeal. They challenge the directed verdict, the jury instructions, the ...


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