Justia Nevada Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court overruled Barto v. Weishaar, 692 P.2d 498 (Nev. 1985), and its conclusion that a suggestion of death emanating from the deceased party must identify the deceased party's successor or representative to trigger the deadline set forth in Nev. R. Civ. P. 25(a)(1) to file a motion to substitute, holding that Barto expanded rule 25(a)(1) beyond its plain language. James McNamee was sued for damages. During the litigation, McNamee died. Counsel for McNamee filed a suggestion of death without naming a successor or representative. Thereafter, the probate court appointed Susan Clokey as special administrator to defend the negligence suit. McNamee's attorney later filed a motion to substitute Clokey as the party defendant in the negligence suit. The district court denied the motion and named Fred Waid as general administrator of McNamee's estate. McNamee's attorney moved to dismiss the personal injury case because his motion to substitute had been denied. The district court denied the motion and substituted Waid as the defendant in place of McNamee. The Supreme Court held (1) a suggestion of death that is properly served triggers the deadline for filing a motion to substitute regardless of whether it identifies the deceased party's successor or representative; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Petitioner's motion to substitute. View "McNamee v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Appellant's complaint because he filed it, though he did not serve it, without an affidavit and expert report, holding that an initial pleading filed under Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.258(1) is void ab initio only when it is served without a concurrent filing of the required attorney affidavit and expert report. In dismissing Appellant's complaint the district court relief on a statement in Otak Nevada, LLC v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 260 P.3d 408 (2011), that "a pleading filed under [section] 11.258 without the required affidavit and expert report is void ab initio." The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting the motion to dismiss and remanded the matter to the district court for further consideration, holding that a pleading is void ab initio under section 11.258(1) only where the pleading is served without a concurrent filing of the required attorney affidavit and expert report, not where the pleading is merely filed. View "Reif v. Aries Consultants, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of first-degree murder and affirmed the judgment of conviction as to the other charges for which Defendant was convicted, holding that the district court abused its discretion by declining to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter. Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, two counts of child abuse, neglect or endangerment, and ownership or possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded for a new trial on the murder charge, holding (1) a district court must instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter when requested so long as the instruction is supported by some evidence, even if that evidence is circumstantial; (2) because the circumstantial evidence in this case strongly suggested the killing occurred in a sudden heat of passion upon provocation the district court abused its discretion by refusing to give a jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter; and (3) Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining allegations of error. View "Newson v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's distribution of community property upon the divorce of Richard Kilgore and Eleni Kilgore, holding that a district court has significant discretion when determining whether to grant or deny a non-employee spouse's request for pension payments before the employee spouse has retired. On appeal, Richard argued that the district court (1) abused its discretion in concluding that Eleni was entitled to her community property share of his pension benefits even though he had not yet retired, reduced the amount to a judgment, and ordered him to pay Eleni a monthly amount it deemed fair, and (2) erred when it concluded that his vacation and sick pay were omitted from the divorce decree and thereafter divided them equally between the parties. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in granting Eleni's request for pension payments before Richard retired; and (2) did not err in considering the omitted assets and dividing them equally between the parties. View "Kilgore v. Kilgore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's determination that Ruby Lake Estates Homeowner's Association's (RLEHOA) authority to impose assessments on Appellants, property owners in Ruby Lake Estates (RLE), holding that RLE is a common-interest community within the meaning of Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.021 and that RLEHOA did not need to be organized before the first lot in RLE was conveyed. RLE was create in 1989. Appellants filed a declaratory relief action challenging RLEHOA's authority to impose assessments on them. Specifically, Appellants argued (1) RLE was not a validly created "common-interest community" as defined by section 116.021; and (2) alternatively, RLEHOA was not a validly created "unit-owners' association." The district court granted summary judgment for RLEHOA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) RLE is a common-interest community because RLE's declaration contained an implied payment obligation for the common elements and other real estate of which Appellants had notice; and (2) Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.3101(1) does not apply to common-interest communities formed before 1992, and therefore, RLEHOA did not need to be organized before the first lot in RLE was conveyed. View "Artemis Exploration Co. v. Ruby Lake Estates Homeowner's Ass'n" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of prohibition directing the district court to grant Petitioner's motion to dismiss the underlying petition for judicial review and clarifying that premature petitions for judicial review do not vest subject matter jurisdiction in the district court. After the administrative agency in this case stated its disposition on the record the petition for judicial review was filed. The agency's statement, however, did not include findings of fact and conclusions of law with an explicit statement of the underlying facts in support. The Supreme Court granted this petition for a writ of prohibition, holding (1) the disposition that was stated on the record did not constitute a final decision for purposes of commencing the period in Nev. Rev. Stat. 233B.130(2)(d) in which an aggrieved party may seek judicial review; and (2) therefore, the petition failed to comply with the relevant statutory requirements and thus did not vest jurisdiction in the district court. View "Nevada State Board of Architecture v. District Court" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part an order of the district court granting a petition for judicial review of a decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ) and vacated the ALJ's order finding that the Grace Period Payment Deferment Agreement (GPPDA) marketed by TitleMax of Nevada, Inc. violated Nev. Rev. Stat. 604A.445 and Nev. Rev. Stat. 604A.210, holding that the GPPDA impermissibly extended the duration of the loan. In 2014, TitleMax began offering the GPPDA, marketed as an amendment and modification to its 210-day loan and under which TitleMax collected seven months of interest-only payments calculated based on a static principal balance and then collected seven months of payments amortizing principal. The Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Financial Institutions Division brought the underlying administrative disciplinary action alleging that TitleMax violated sections 604A.445(3) and 604A.210. The ALJ ordered TitleMax to cease and desist offering the GPPDA and sanctioned TitleMax for willfully violating the statutes. The district court vacated the ALJ's order. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) because the GPPDA required borrowers to make unamortized payments and consequently charged "additional interest" it violated the pertinent statutes; and (2) TitleMax's statutory violation was not "willful" and thus did not warrant statutory sanctions. View "State, Department of Business & Industry, Financial Institutions Division v. TitleMax of Nevada, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In this homeowners' association (HOA) foreclosure case, the Supreme Court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to U.S. Bank, N.A. and remanded for entry of summary judgment for SFR Investments Pool 1, LLC, holding that the mere fact that a foreclosure sale was held in violation of a bankruptcy stay is not by itself evidence of unfairness. The homeowner filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which imposed an automatic stay on actions against her real property. In violation of the stay, the HOA sold the property at a foreclosure sale. SFR, the purchaser, sought to quiet title. The bankruptcy court issued a limited order retroactively annulling the bankruptcy stay of the stay, which has the legal effect of validating the sale. The district court, however, set aside the sale and granted summary judgment for U.S. Bank finding that the HOA's foreclosure sale being conducted in violation of the bankruptcy stay was evidence of unfairness and that the sale price was inadequate. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that U.S. Bank failed to produce any evidence showing how the sale's violation of the automatic stay constituted unfairness and that SFR met its burden of showing that the HOA foreclosure sale complied with the procedures in Nev. Rev. Stat. Chapter 116. View "SFR Investments Pool 1 v. U.S. Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court awarding attorney fees in a wrongful termination suit, holding that because Plaintiff's wrongful termination claim rested on a novel yet arguable construction of the limitations period the district court should not have awarded attorney fees pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.010(2)(b). Plaintiff filed her complaint alleging wrongful termination more than two years after she was terminated. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the two-year statute of limitations under Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.190(4)(e) applied and that the wrongful termination period had expired. The district court granted the motion to dismiss and awarded Defendant attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the district court properly dismissed the complaint as time-barred; but (2) because this Court has not previously addressed the appropriate limitations period for a wrongful termination claim, Plaintiff's argument presented a matter of first impression, and therefore, the district court should not have awarded attorney fees on the basis that Plaintiff's claim was untimely filed and thus groundless under Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.010(2)(b). View "Patush v. Las Vegas Bistro" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision to reinstate Happy Creek, Inc.'s original water rights' priority dates in equity, holding that, under the extraordinary circumstances of this case, the district court properly granted equitable relief for Happy Creek. As mandated by Nev. Rev. Stat. 533.410 the State Engineer canceled Happy Creek's ground water permits after Happy Creek's agent missed a filing deadline by a few weeks. Accordingly, Happy Creek lost more than fifty years of priority in water rights despite having invested $1 million in improving water-use efficiency and having met the other substantive criteria for maintaining priority of its water rights. Happy Creek's groundwater rights were in an over-appropriated basin, and therefore, Happy Creek was threatened with complete loss of use of water. The district court granted equitable relief by restoring Happy Creek's original senior priority dates. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that pursuant to State Engineer v. American National Insurance Co., 498 P.2d 1329 (Nev. 1972), and its progeny, the district court properly granted Happy Creek equitable relief. View "State Engineer v. Happy Creek, Inc." on Justia Law