Harris v. Eberhardt

Decision Date26 August 1983
Docket NumberNo. 82-484,82-484
Citation338 N.W.2d 53,215 Neb. 240
PartiesWilliam P. HARRIS and Evelyn P. Harris, Appellees, v. Viola EBERHARDT, Appellant.
CourtNebraska Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

1. Small Claims Court. The entire matter in small claims court is on a very informal basis, with a minimum of procedural requirements.

2. Small Claims Court: Pleadings: Appeal and Error. Inasmuch as no specific theories of recovery are required to be pleaded in small claims court, that court's decision must be affirmed by the District Court if it can be founded on any theory supported by the evidence.

3. Pleadings: Waiver. A general appearance waives any defects in the process or notice, the steps preliminary to its issuance, or in the service or return thereof.

W.G. Whitford, Madison, for appellant.

No appearance for appellees.

BOSLAUGH, WHITE, and HASTINGS, JJ., and BROWER and McGINN, District Judges.

PER CURIAM.

The plaintiffs, William and Evelyn Harris, instituted an action in the small claims court of Madison County, asking judgment in the sum of $1,000 on the ground that "defendant refuses to release savings of plaintiffs." The claim was based on the allegation that the defendant had not returned all of the money which had been entrusted to her by the plaintiff William Harris. After a trial, at which the parties appeared, the small claims court determined that of the $1,654 placed in confidence with the defendant, she had not returned $874. On appeal the District Court, hearing the case de novo, found that the defendant had not returned $854, and entered judgment accordingly. We affirm.

The defendant has assigned two points of error on appeal to this court. First, the defendant contends that the small claims court and the District Court erred in proceeding on a complaint for money damages which did not state a cause of action.

The entire matter in small claims court is on a very informal basis, with a minimum of procedural requirements. State ex rel. Simpson v. Vondrasek, 203 Neb. 693, 279 N.W.2d 860 (1979). Neb.Rev.Stat. § 24-526 (Reissue 1979) provides that "No formal pleadings other than the claim and notice, and the counterclaim or setoff and notice, if appropriate, shall be required in the Small Claims Court ...."

This court's holding in Fuchser v. Jacobson, 205 Neb. 786, 290 N.W.2d 449 (1980), is pertinent here. In that decision we held that "Inasmuch as no specific theories of recovery are required to be pleaded in Small Claims Court, that court's decision must be affirmed by the District Court if it can be founded on any theory supported by the evidence." Id. at 788, 290 N.W.2d at 451. We believe the evidence amply supported the court's finding.

Second, the defendant argues that the small claims court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to try the case, since the mail receipt of the notice was not signed by the defendant. Neb.Rev.Stat. § 24-524(3) (Reissue 1979) provides that "Service by mail shall be complete upon return to the court of the receipt signed by the defendant ...."

In this case, however, the defendant did not challenge the sufficiency of the notice before the small claims court, but participated fully on the merits of her cause. These acts constituted a general appearance before that tribunal. Abel v. Southwest Cas. Ins. Co., 182 Neb. 605, 156 N.W.2d 166 (1968); Ivaldy v. Ivaldy, 157 Neb. 204, 59 N.W.2d 373 (1953).

This court has long adhered to the general rule that "A general appearance waives any defects in the process...

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9 cases
  • State v. One Thousand Nine Hundred Forty-Seven Dollars in U.S. Currency, FORTY-SEVEN
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • August 28, 1998
    ...Sys. v. Dept. of Health, 249 Neb. 405, 543 N.W.2d 466 (1996); Wymore v. Wymore, 239 Neb. 940, 479 N.W.2d 778 (1992); Harris v. Eberhardt, 215 Neb. 240, 338 N.W.2d 53 (1983). Therefore, despite the State's failure to comply with the service requirements of § 28-431(4), Badgett became subject......
  • Friedman v. Friedman, S–14–710
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • May 22, 2015
    ...of Motor Vehicles, 248 Neb. 501, 536 N.W.2d 344 (1995) ; McKillip v. Harvey, 80 Neb. 264, 114 N.W. 155 (1907).6 Harris v. Eberhardt, 215 Neb. 240, 338 N.W.2d 53 (1983).7 See, Miller v. Steichen, 268 Neb. 328, 682 N.W.2d 702 (2004) ; Harrold v. Spaghetti Tree, Inc., 219 Neb. 139, 362 N.W.2d ......
  • Scottsbluff Typewriter Leasing Co. v. Beverly Enterprises-Nebraska, Inc.
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • December 23, 1988
    ...was to defraud creditors. All these holdings are particularly applicable in a small claims court action. In Harris v. Eberhardt, 215 Neb. 240, 241, 338 N.W.2d 53, 54 (1983), we stated, "The entire matter in small claims court is on a very informal basis, with a minimum of procedural require......
  • Dept. of Health and Human Serv. V. Weekley
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • November 30, 2007
    ...State v. Nelson, 274 Neb. 304, 739 N.W.2d 199 (2007). 6. Henriksen v. Gleason, 263 Neb. 840, 643 N.W.2d 652 (2002); Harris v. Eberhardt, 215 Neb. 240, 338 N.W.2d 53 (1983). 7. Neb.Rev.Stat. § 25-2803(2) (Reissue 1995). 8. Neb.Rev.Stat. § 25-2805 (Cum.Supp.2006). 9. Neb.Rev.Stat. § 25-2806 (......
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