Farmers Lose Appeal Over Failed Grain Elevator

Paul Hammel reported yesterday at the Omaha World-Herald Online that, “More than 30 farmers who ended up losing an estimated $2.6 million in the closing of a Pierce, Nebraska, grain elevator lost a final attempt Friday to try to recover their losses.

“The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the farmers could not sue the Nebraska Public Service Commission [PSC] for allegedly failing to provide proper financial oversight of Pierce Grain Elevator Inc., which was ordered closed by the commission in March 2014.

“The court ruled that the commission, which regulates grain elevators, has sovereign immunity against such lawsuits.”

Mr. Hammel explained that, “According to the farmers’ lawsuit, nine months before the elevator was closed, the PSC had performed a compliance review indicating that the elevator was operating deeply in the red. But the PSC did not revoke the elevator’s license until March 2014.

“The farmers’ lawsuit was dismissed by Lancaster County District Court Judge Susan Strong.

“On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the dismissal, agreeing that the PSC had immunity from such lawsuits.”

The World-Herald article added that, “‘(The law) is clear and unambiguous,’ wrote Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey Funke. ‘State agencies may not be sued … based upon the failure to suspend or revoke a license.'”

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