ConAgra notches state supreme court win for workplace safety

The case went to the state supreme court, which ordered the lower court to reinstate a permanent injunction.

Heidi A. Guttau-Fox

In November 2012, the estranged husband of an employee of ConAgra Foods Inc. shot at workers at the company’s headquarters in Omaha, Neb. ConAgra sought to have Ryan Zimmerman banned from any contact with the company. After the lower court lifted ConAgra’s temporary restraining order against him and refused to grant a one-year permanent injunction, ConAgra appealed. On May 9, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in the company’s favor.

Heidi A. Guttau-Fox, partner at Baird Holm, L.L.P., represented ConAgra in the case.

“We are pleased by the court’s decision, as well as the leadership and all-around great lawyering shown by our counsel, Heidi Guttau-Fox at Baird Holm,” said Megan Belcher, vice president & chief employment counsel of ConAgra. “We believe, more broadly than ConAgra Foods, that this is a beneficial decision for Nebraska employers.”

Within days of the incident in 2012, ConAgra filed a complaint seeking a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a one-year permanent injunction against Zimmerman. As part of the hearing for the permanent injunction, ConAgra presented as evidence three orders of protection that Zimmerman’s wife had filed against him.

On April 1, 2013, the district court dissolved the temporary injunction and denied ConAgra’s request for a permanent injunction. The district court, citing Cox v. Sheen, ruled that a single trespass does not give rise to injunc­tive relief. ConAgra appealed. The case went to the state supreme court, which ruled in ConAgra’s favor and ordered the lower court to reinstate the injunction.

“Through his deplorable actions, Zimmerman has demonstrated that he is willing to flagrantly violate the criminal laws of this state in order to trespass upon ConAgra property,” Judge Michael McCormack wrote for the 4-2 majority. “Although Zimmerman’s prior criminal actions raise real doubts on the efficacy of a permanent injunction preventing Zimmerman from again trespassing onto ConAgra property, we do not feel comfortable standing by idly when justice calls for action.”

Contributing Author

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Amy I. Stickel

Amy I. Stickel has extensive experience covering the legal, financial and pharmaceutical industries as a writer and editor. A past managing editor of Corporate Legal Times and...

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