Justia Nevada Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment and awarding attorney fees and costs in favor of Zitting Brothers Construction, a subcontractor on a development project, on its breach of contract action against APCO Construction, Inc., the general contractor, holding that the pay-if-paid provision in construction contract here was void under Nev. Rev. Stat. 624.628(3).Provisions in the subcontract in this case conditioned payment on the general contractor receiving payment first and required the subcontractor to forgo its right to prompt payment under Nev. Rev. Stat. 624.624 when payment would otherwise be due. When the project failed, Zitting sued APCO seeking payment for work completed. APCO defended its nonpayment with the pay-if-paid provisions in the contract. The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Zitting on its breach of contract and mechanics' liens claims, concluding that the pay-if-paid provisions were void and unenforceable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the pay-if-paid provisions in the parties' subcontract were void and unenforceable under section 624.628(3) because they limited Zitting's right to prompt payment under section 624.624(1). View "APCO Construction, Inc. v. Zitting Brothers Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Clark County's petition for judicial review of the decision of an appeals officer reversing Clark County's denial of a retiree's claim for ongoing partial disability benefits, holding that the appeals officer correctly found that the retiree was entitled to benefits based on the wages he was earning at the time he retired.Brent Bean worked as a Clark County firefighter and retired in 2011. In 2014, Bean was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had part of his prostate removed. Clark County rejected Bean's claim for occupational disease benefits insofar as it sought ongoing permanent partial disability benefits, concluding that because Bean was retired at the time he became permanently partially disabled, he was not earning wages upon which to base a permanent partial disability benefits award. The appeals officer reversed, and the district court rejected Clark County's petition for judicial review. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appeals officer correctly found that compensation for Bean's permanent partial disability rating must be based on the wages he was earning at the time of his retirement. View "Clark County v. Bean" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Appellant's petition for judicial review of the order of the Nevada Gaming Control Board affirming the decision of a Board agent that a casino's refusal to redeem Appellant's six $5,000 chips because it could not verify that Appellant had won them, holding that because Appellant was in fact a "patron" of the casino, the Board should have instructed the casino to redeem Appellant's chips.Nevada Gaming Commission Regulation (NGCR) 12.060(2)(c) provides that a licensee must promptly redeem its chips and tokens from its patrons. When a casino refused to redeem Appellant's chips, Appellant filed a complaint. A Board agent found that Appellant was a patron but concluded that because the casino could not verify that Appellant had won the chips, it need not have redeemed them. The Board affirmed. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Appellant was a patron of the casino, the casino should have promptly redeemed Appellant's chips under NGCR 12.060(2)(c). View "Young v. Nevada Gaming Control Board" on Justia Law

Posted in: Gaming Law
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The Supreme Court granted these consolidated writ petitions filed by the Washoe County District Attorney's Office challenging the Second Judicial District Court's authority to compel it to participate in a record-sealing proceeding, holding that if a district attorney's office chooses not to participate in a proceeding, the district court lacks the authority to compel it to do so.In 2019, the Washoe County DA told the district court it would participate in record-sealing proceedings only when it wanted to oppose the petition. Three petitioners subsequently filed petitions to seal their criminal records. As required by Nev. Rev. Stat. 179.245(3), the district court notified the Washoe County DA that each petition had been filed. The court then ordered that the DA file a response or opposition to the petition. The Washoe County DA responded by filing three identical writ petitions challenging the district court's authority to compel it to participate in the record-sealing proceedings. The Supreme Court granted the petitions, holding that sections 179.245(3) and (4) do not require the Washoe County DA to participate in a record-sealing petition, and the district court otherwise lacked the authority compel the DA to participate. View "Washoe County District Attorney's Office v. Second Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this derivative action, the Supreme Court held that a corporation, as a nominal defendant, is precluded from challenging the merits of a derivative action but may challenge a shareholder plaintiff's standing in such an action.Plaintiff filed a derivative action on behalf of a Corporation challenging conduct by the Corporation's board of directors. The district court granted partial summary judgment against certain directors and then ratified the remaining challenged board conduct. The Supreme Court reversed the summary judgments and vacated the orders denying Defendants' motions to dismiss, holding (1) this Court adopts the factors set forth in Larson v. Dumke, 900 F.2d 1363 (9th Cir. 1990), for determining whether a shareholder plaintiff in a derivative action fairly and adequately represents the interests of the shareholders under Nev. R. Civ. P. 23.1; (2) a corporate nominal defendant in a derivative action cannot challenge or defend the underlying merits of that action but may challenge a shareholder plaintiff's standing to bring a derivative suit; and (3) Plaintiff in this case lacked standing as an adequate representative of the shareholders. View "Cotter v. Kane" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the plain language of Nev. Rev. Stat. 34.810(1)(a) excludes claims of ineffective assistance that do not allege a deficiency affecting the validity of the guilty plea, as well as claims alleging deficiencies that occur only after the entry of the guilty plea.Appellant was convicted of three counts of aggravated stalking. Appellant later filed a postconviction habeas petition, raising several claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and appellate counsel. The district court dismissed nearly all of the claims, finding that they fell outside the scope of postconviction habeas claims allowed by section 34.810(1)(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that all of Appellant's ineffective assistance claims were outside the scope of cognizable claims under section 34.810(1)(a) and thus were properly dismissed. View "Gonzales v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of Judge Douglas Smith denying Defendant's post-trial motions for a new trial and to reconstruct the record after discovering a jury note that the trial judge, Senior Judge James Bixler, did not discuss in the presence of counsel, holding that Judge Smith improperly denied Defendant's request to have Judge Bixler decide the merits of his motions.After a jury convicted Defendant of robbery Defendant discovered the jury note at issue. In filing post-trial motions for a new trial and to reconstruct the record, Defendant requested that Judge Bixler preside over the motions. Judge Smith denied the request and heard the motions and denied them, finding that Judge Bixler did not remember the jury question or whether he presented the jury question to counsel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) where Nev. Rev. Stat. 175.101 and caselaw clearly provide that the trial judge preside over post-trial motions unless the trial judge is absent, sick, deceased or disabled, Judge Smith erred when he declined Defendant's request for Judge Bixler to decide his post-trial motions; and (2) this Court declines to interpret the term "disability" under section 175.101 to include a judge's inability to remember a particular event that occurred during the proceeding. View "Harvey v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction, holding that Defendant waived his challenge under Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968), and that any other errors were harmless and did not amount to cumulative error warranting reversal.Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary, attempted burglary while in possession of a firearm or deadly weapon, attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon, and battery with use of a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm. On appeal, Defendant argued that his Confrontation Clause rights under Bruton were violated when the district court admitted his codefendant's statements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the record showed that Defendant waived his Bruton argument; (2) the district court abused its discretion in admitting certain testimony, but the error did not warrant reversal; and (3) there were multiple instances of prosecutorial misconduct, but the errors did not warrant reversal. View "Turner v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court answered in the negative a question certified to it by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that the public trust doctrine does not permit the reallocation of rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation.This litigation stemmed from Mineral County's intervention in longstanding litigation over water rights in the Walker River Basin to protect and restore Walker Lake. Here, the Supreme Court was asked for the first time to consider whether the public trust doctrine permits reallocating water rights previously settled under Nevada's prior appropriation doctrine. The Supreme Court held that the doctrine, as implemented through the state's water statutes, does not permit reallocating water rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation. View "Mineral County v. Lyon County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's denial of Appellant's petition for guardianship of her nephew, holding that the district court evaluated under the incorrect standard Appellant's request for predicate factual findings necessary for an individual to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.In her petition, Appellant requested that the district court make the predicate factual findings for an individual to apply for SIJ status, including a finding that reunifying her nephew with his mother in his country of origin was not viable due to abuse or neglect. The district court denied the request after applying the heightened standard of proof applicable in proceedings for the termination of parental rights under Nev. Rev. Stat. Chapter 128. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a party requesting predicate factual findings under Nev. Rev. Stat. 3.2203 need only show that such findings are warranted by a preponderance of the evidence. View "In re Guardianship of B.A.A.R." on Justia Law