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Brandon v. County of Richardson

Nebraska Supreme Court
624 N.W.2d 604 (2001)


Facts

JoAnn Brandon (plaintiff) filed suit against the County of Richardson (defendant) and Sheriff Charles Laux (defendant) for negligence, wrongful death, and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of events leading up to, and including, the murder of her daughter, Teena. Teena identified as a male and began dating a woman in a nearby town. Subsequently, John Lotter and Thomas Nissen violently beat and raped Teena. Teena reported the sexual assault to Sheriff Laux and was questioned about the incident in a confrontational and extremely graphic manner by Laux. The questioning was captured on a tape recording. At the time Teena reported the rape, Laux was aware that Lotter and Nissen had criminal pasts and had made specific threats on Teena's life following the rape. Subsequently, Teena and two others were found murdered in Richardson County, and Lotter and Nissen were tried for the murders. During the trial, several law-enforcement officers testified that Laux's conduct during the interview was inappropriate, and one officer called Laux's conduct "very unprofessional" and "outrageous." Lotter and Nissen were convicted of the murders. The trial court, sitting without a jury, found the County negligent and awarded economic damages in the amount of $6,223.20 and non-economic damages of $80,000. However, the trial court reduced the award on the negligence claim by 85 percent for the intentional torts of Lotter and Nissen and by 1 percent for Teena's own negligence and denied recovery for intentional infliction of emotional distress. JoAnn Brandon appealed, and the County cross-appealed. On appeal, JoAnn Brandon claimed, among other things, that the trial court erred in denying recovery for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hendry, C.J.)

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