Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action against Kamehameha Investment Corporation (KIC), the developer of a hillside area, and Sato and Associates, Inc. and Daniel Miyasato (collectively, Sato), the civil engineer. KIC tendered defense against Plaintiffs’ claims to Sato pursuant to a hold harmless clause in a project consultant agreement between Sato and KIC. KIC filed a cross-claim against Sato, alleging that Sato had agreed to defend and indemnify KIC against Plaintiffs’ claims. The trial court granted KIC’s motion for partial summary judgment against Sato. Relying on Pancakes of Hawaii, Inc. v. Pomare Properties Corp., the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that Sato had a contractual duty to defend KIC in the wrongful death action. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment, holding (1) Haw. Rev. Stat. 431:10-222 renders invalid any provision in a construction contract requiring the promisor to defend “the promisee against liability for bodily injury to persons or damage to property caused by or resulting from the sole negligence of willful misconduct of the promisee, the promisee’s agent or employees, or indemnitee”; (2) Pancakes does not apply to defense provisions in construction contracts; and (3) the scope of a promisor’s duty to defend imposed by a construction contract is determined at the end of litigation. Remanded. View "Arthur v. State, Dep’t of Hawaiian Home Lands" on Justia Law

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After Defendant performed surgery on Plaintiff’s back, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging medical negligence and negligent failure to obtain informed consent. Defendant moved for summary judgment, alleging that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff’s claim of negligent failure to obtain informed consent because Plaintiff did not have medical expert testimony as to the “materiality” of the risk to support his claim. The circuit court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant as to both of Plaintiff’s claims. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment as to the claim of negligent failure to obtain informed consent, holding (1) the common law materiality factors do not apply to a claim of negligent failure to obtain informed consent, and the circuit court erred in relying upon them instead of on Haw. Rev. Stat. 671-3(b); (2) consequently, Defendant was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law based on lack of expert testimony as to the common law materiality factors; and (3) the circuit court erred in concluding that Defendant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff’s claim of negligent failure to obtain informed consent. View "Garcia v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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Gene Wong was employed by Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (HAL) as a pilot until he retired. Upon retiring, Wong became eligible to receive medical insurance paid for by HAL. Wong claimed that, as a result of misinformation he received from the employee benefits director, he did not complete the necessary forms to enroll in Medicare Part B coverage for almost a decade. Wong filed suit against HAL, alleging negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair or deceptive practice (UDAP). The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of HAL, concluding that (1) Wong’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims were preempted by the Railroad Labor Act (RLA) because any duty HAL owed would be derived from HAL’s obligations to retired pilots under a collective bargaining agreement between HAL and the Airline Pilots Association, and (2) the UDAP claim failed because the deceptive act did not occur in the conduct of any trade or commerce. The Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the record in this case did not support federal preemption of Wong’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims because these claims were not dependent on the Pilots Agreement; and (2) summary judgment was correctly granted on Wong’s UDAP claim. View "Wong v. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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Gene Wong was employed by Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (HAL) as a pilot until he retired. Upon retiring, Wong became eligible to receive medical insurance paid for by HAL. Wong claimed that, as a result of misinformation he received from the employee benefits director, he did not complete the necessary forms to enroll in Medicare Part B coverage for almost a decade. Wong filed suit against HAL, alleging negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair or deceptive practice (UDAP). The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of HAL, concluding that (1) Wong’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims were preempted by the Railroad Labor Act (RLA) because any duty HAL owed would be derived from HAL’s obligations to retired pilots under a collective bargaining agreement between HAL and the Airline Pilots Association, and (2) the UDAP claim failed because the deceptive act did not occur in the conduct of any trade or commerce. The Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the record in this case did not support federal preemption of Wong’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims because these claims were not dependent on the Pilots Agreement; and (2) summary judgment was correctly granted on Wong’s UDAP claim. View "Wong v. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the former Chief of the General Medical & Preventative Services Division at the Hawaii Department of Health, filed a tort complaint against the State and Senator Rosalyn Baker, alleging that Baker eliminated his position in retaliation for whistleblowing activities. Baker filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that she was immune from suit based on legislative immunity, that the claims were untimely, and that the complaint failed to state a claim. The circuit court granted in part and denied in part Baker’s motion to dismiss, finding, as relevant to this appeal, that Baker was not entitled to dismissal on the basis of legislative immunity. Baker appealed. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s order and remanded to the ICA for determination of the appeal on the merits, holding that the ICA had jurisdiction to hear Baker’s appeal because the circuit court’s order was an immediately appealable collateral order. View "Greer v. Baker" on Justia Law

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Defendant’s vehicle struck Minor in or near a crosswalk as Minor crossed Farrington Highway on foot. A jury returned a unanimous special verdict finding Defendant not negligent. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment and the circuit court’s order denying Plaintiffs’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and/or, in the alternative, for new trial, holding (1) the jury instructions erroneously focused on a pedestrian’s obligation to obey all traffic laws rather than a driver’s obligation to avoid collisions, and the erroneous instructions were prejudicial; (2) the circuit court erred in excluding certain testimony on Defendant’s speed; and (3) the circuit court erred in excluding a photograph with markings made or authorized by a witness during his deposition that placed Minor in a crosswalk. Remanded. View "Samson v. Nahulu" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Petitioner, the former State director of United Public Workers, AFSCME Local 646, FL-CIO (UPW) and a former administrator of UPW’s Mutual Aid Fund trust (MAF), was held liable by a federal district court for negligently making loans under ERISA and thus breaching his fiduciary duties to the MAF. The court entered judgment against Petitioner in the amount of $850,000. Petitioner filed a complaint in the circuit court requesting that UPW indemnify him for the $850,000 on the grounds that his liability to the MAF arose from actions he took solely in his capacity as agent for UPW and/or that UPW ratified his actions. The circuit court granted summary judgment for UPW. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that because Petitioner was responsible for his own conduct, he was not entitled to be indemnified for his negligent acts as a matter of law. Petitioner requested certiorari, claiming that the ICA erred in concluding that his negligence claim defeated his indemnification claim as a matter of law. The Supreme Court denied certiorari without reaching this issue, holding that ERISA preemption, not Petitioner’s negligence, defeated Petitioner’s state indemnity claims against UPW as a matter of law. View "Rodrigues v. United Public Workers, AFSCME Local 646" on Justia Law

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Since 1993, Defendant claimed lawful ownership of a property that was fraudulently transferred to him as part of a conspiracy to prevent Plaintiffs from collecting on a judgment. After two remands, a third jury found that the transfer of certain property was fraudulent and awarded $253,000 in special damages and $1,642,857 in punitive damages. Defendant appealed, arguing that the punitive damages award was grossly excessive and in violation of his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the punitive damages award. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment, holding that the punitive damages awarded by the third jury was justified and did not violate Defendant’s federal due process rights. View "Kekona v. Bornemann" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued the County of Hawai’i for negligence, alleging that it breached a legal duty to use reasonable care in maintaining pertinent correspondence in its property files contained in the Planning Department and that this breach caused Plaintiff monetary damages. The circuit court granted the County’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the County had no statutorily-based duty to maintain Planning Department records with unerring accuracy. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) neither Rule 1-8 of the Hawai’i County Planning Department Rules of Practice and Procedure nor Haw. Rev. Stat. 92F provide a statutory basis for imposing negligence liability upon the County Planning Department based on a breach of any duty to maintain its property files in accurate and timely condition at all times; and (2) policy considerations counsel against the judicial creation of such a legal duty under the common law . View "Molfino v. Yuen" on Justia Law

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These appeals stemmed from an action Plaintiff filed against Hawaii Employers Medical Insurance Company (HEMIC) and others. Plaintiff eventually filed separate appeals regarding two orders of the circuit court granting motions in favor of HEMIC. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated one order but denied Plaintiff’s request for appellate costs related to the appeal of that order. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the ICA pertaining to its denial of appellate costs and awarded costs in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $628, holding (1) the ICA applied an erroneous legal standard in denying costs; and (2) because Plaintiff was the prevailing party on the disputed issue on appeal, he was eligible for an award of costs related to the appeal. View "Jou v. Argonaut Ins. Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law