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Nebraska Supreme Court Reverses Ruling Involving Charity


The Nebraska Supreme Court’s August 18, 2006 decision in Gilbert H. and Martha M. Hitchcock Foundation v. Kountze, 272 Neb 251 (2006), declares the State’s Attorney General was required to be notified of allegations against the sole remaining heirs of former U.S. Senator, and Omaha World Herald founder, Gilbert Hitchcock and his wife Martha. The Hitchcock’s Foundation, devoted to charitable purposes, became embroiled in a battle over control, pitting family members against non-family members.

The Supreme Court reversed the District Court’s ruling, and held parties attacking the surviving family members failed to comply with legal requirements to notify the Attorney General. As a result, all action at the District Court level was void.

David Domina and Michael Stumo, Domina Law Group pc llo, and David Lanphier (formerly a Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court) teamed together to present the appeal. Domina Law Group pc llo and Lanphier first appeared as counsel for the successful appealing parties after the District Court trial concluded.

The Supreme Court’s Opinion notes the importance of making certain the public’s interests are protected when foundations devoted to charitable, public purposes are involved in litigation. The Court refused to waive, or ignore, failure to prove the Attorney General was given proper notice. As a result, the District Court’s decision was reversed.

David Domina called the Supreme Court’s opinion “a recognition of a genuine, important protection of the public’s interests and needs. The Supreme Court’s reiteration of this fundamental legal principle protecting the public is an important assurance for future generations of Nebraskans.”

The Gilbert and Martha Hitchcock Foundation has been called Nebraska’s oldest and most prestigious charitable institution. Its philanthropy includes Columbia University’s School of Journalism, the Omaha Children’s Museum, the John G. Neihardt Center, and countless other charities.

August 21, 2006
David A. Domina

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