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48-177. Hearing; judge; place; dismissal; procedure; manner of conducting hearings.
(1) At the time a petition or motion is filed, one of the judges of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court shall be assigned to hear the cause. It shall be heard in the county in which the accident occurred, except as otherwise provided in section 25-412.02 and except that, upon the written stipulation of the parties, filed with the compensation court at least fourteen days before the date of hearing, the cause may be heard in any other county in the state.
(2) Any such cause may be dismissed without prejudice to a future action (a) by the plaintiff, if represented by legal counsel, before the final submission of the case to the compensation court or (b) by the compensation court upon a stipulation of the parties that a dispute between the parties no longer exists.
(3) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, all nonevidentiary hearings, and any evidentiary hearings approved by the compensation court and by stipulation of the parties, may be heard by the court telephonically or by videoconferencing or similar equipment at any location within the state as ordered by the court and in a manner that ensures the preservation of an accurate record. Hearings conducted in this manner shall be consistent with the public's access to the courts.
This section gives a workers' compensation plaintiff the explicit right to dismiss the cause without prejudice so long as the plaintiff is represented by counsel and requests dismissal before the final submission of the case to the court. Interiano-Lopez v. Tyson Fresh Meats, 294 Neb. 586, 883 N.W.2d 676 (2016).
This section is not jurisdictional; it simply specifies the venue for hearing the cause. Hofferber v. Hastings Utilities, 282 Neb. 215, 803 N.W.2d 1 (2011).
The right of a plaintiff in a workers' compensation case to voluntary dismissal is a right that is not a matter of judicial grace or discretion. Knapp v. Village of Beaver City, 273 Neb. 156, 728 N.W.2d 96 (2007).
A plaintiff in a suit before the Workers' Compensation Court does not have an absolute right to a dismissal of the suit without prejudice. Grady v. Visiting Nurse Assn., 246 Neb. 1013, 524 N.W.2d 559 (1994).
Absent statutory disqualification, bias, or other cause shown, it is not prejudicial for the one judge of the Workmen's Compensation Court to serve as one of the judges of that court on rehearing. Schademann v. Casey, 194 Neb. 149, 231 N.W.2d 116 (1975).
This and succeeding sections prescribe two procedures for processing workmen's compensation claims carrying over rules that governed the compensation commissioner. Adler v. Jerryco Motors, Inc., 187 Neb. 757, 193 N.W.2d 757 (1972).
Initial hearing is before one judge of the workmen's compensation court. Light v. Nebraska Workmen's Compensation Court, 166 Neb. 540, 89 N.W.2d 833 (1958).
Compensation case may be heard by stipulation of parties in appeal from compensation court and by the district court for any county, and a party invoking the court's jurisdiction is estopped to object thereto afterward. McCall v. Hamilton County Farmers Telephone Assn., 135 Neb. 70, 280 N.W. 254 (1938).