Articles Posted in Personal Injury

by
In this case raising two questions concerning Hawaii law of workers’ compensation as it relates to permanent partial disability (PPD) awards, the Supreme Court held (1) a PPD award for an unscheduled injury that is not comparable to a scheduled injury must be supported by some factual finding of a determinate percentage of impairment of a physical or mental function of the whole person; and (2) a PPD determination may be based on a claimant’s post-injury inability to perform the usual and customary work activities in the position the claimant occupied prior to the injury. In the instant case, the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board (LIRAB) awarded Employee $250 in PPD benefits. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated LIRAB’s ruling and remanded for a determination of whether Employee had suffered a permanent impairment and, if so, the percentage of the impairment and the award of PPD benefits based on that percentage. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated the Board’s $250 lump sum award and remanded to LIRAB for it to determine the relevant percentage of Employee’s impairment, as well as an award of PPD benefits based on that percentage. View "Ihara v. State" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed a negligence action against the State and the State Department of Transportation (collectively, the State) after a rockfall occurred on the state highway on which Plaintiffs were driving and a boulder struck Plaintiffs’ vehicle, resulting in their injuries. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of the State, concluding that the State breached a duty of care owed to Plaintiffs but that the State was not liable because Plaintiffs failed to prove legal causation. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) the circuit court misapprehended the relevant standard for evaluating legal causation; and (2) the State failed to establish that it was relieved from liability under the discretionary function exception with regard to the duty recognized by the circuit court. View "O’Grady v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

by
Health insurers do not have a broad, unrestricted right of subrogation against third-party tortfeasors who cause injury to their insureds but, rather, are limited to reimbursement rights established by statute. In this personal injury case, the circuit court ruled that Haw. Rev. Stat. 663-10 and/or Haw. Rev. Stat. 431:13-103(a)(1) abrogated Hawai’i Medical Service Association’s (HMSA) contractual and common law rights in subrogation against a third-party tortfeasors responsible for injury to its insured. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a health insurer does not have equitable subrogation rights against a third-party tortfeasor in the context of personal injures; (2) a health insurer’s subrogation and reimbursement rights are limited by section 663-10 and section 431-13:103(a)(1); (3) any contractual provision that conflicts with section 663-10 is invalid; and (4) section 663-10 takes precedence over HMSA’s subrogation rights. View "Yukumoto v. Tawarahara" on Justia Law

by
John Hasircoglu was an employee of a subcontractor to FOPCO, Inc., the general contractor on a tunnel construction project on Molokai. In response to a request by the State, FOPCO identified Donald Clark and Michael Estes, neither of whom were FOPCO employees, as “project superintendent and key personnel.” The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of FOPCO on all claims. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed on the grounds that Estes and Clark were not agents of FOPCO, and therefore, FOPCO could not be held vicariously liable for their alleged negligence. The Supreme Court vacated in part and otherwise affirmed, holding (1) there existed a genuine issue of material fact as to whether there was an agency relationship between FOPCO and Estes and/or Clark based on actual express or implied authority; and (2) summary judgment was proper as to Plaintiffs’ remaining claims. View "Hasircoglu v. FOPCO, Inc." on Justia Law

by
RT Import Inc. filed a complaint against Jesus and Mila Torres seeking damages for merchandise allegedly misdelivered by WFS to the Torreses, which was then converted by the Torreses. RT Import and the Torreses agreed to resolve their dispute through binding arbitration. The arbitrator found that the Torreses committed the intentional tort of conversion and awarded RT Import damages. The arbitrator also found that the Torreses were responsible for arbitration fees and costs. The circuit court granted RT Import’s motion to confirm the final award and awarded RT Import $106,711.62 in damages and $8,355.49 for arbitration attorney’s fees and costs. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed the circuit court’s confirmation of the final arbitration award and judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment as to $4,738.74 of the $8,355.49 for RT’s arbitration attorney’s fees and costs and otherwise affirmed, holding that the circuit court erred by including in the judgment confirming the arbitration award $4,738.74 directly billed by RT Import to the Torreses, which was not a part of the final award. Remanded. View "RT Import, Inc. v. Torres" on Justia Law

by
This case arose out of dispute between the Association of Apartment Owners of Royal Aloha, its former property managers, and its former commercial tenants. The AOAO installed an electricity submetering system and submitted readings of each unit’s electricity submeter to the managing agent, who would bill each owner for electricity. For certain years, some commercial tenants were never billed for electricity, and some were erroneously billed for a portion of those electricity costs. The AOAO sued its former property managers for, inter alia, breach of contract for the billing errors. The AOAO also sued the commercial tenants to recover the unbilled or erroneously billed electricity costs. The circuit court granted summary judgment for all defendants, concluding that all claims were barred under the doctrine of laches. The Intermediate Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the defense of laches applies only to equitable claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that laches is a defense to legal and equitable claims alike. View "Association of Apartment Owners of Royal Aloha v. Certified Management, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Respondent awarded Petitioner a contract to develop an affordable housing development project. The parties entered into a development services agreement (DSA) that contained a provision stating that the parties would proceed to arbitration under state law in the event of a dispute. Petitioner was subsequently terminated from the project. Respondent filed a complaint against Petitioner asserting several causes of action, including intentional misrepresentation and negligence. Petitioners counterclaimed. Petitioners later filed an arbitration motion, which the circuit granted. The intermediate court of appeals denied Petitioners' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the order compelling arbitration in this case was sufficiently final under the collateral order doctrine to be appealable under the general civil matters appeal statute; (2) the scope of the arbitration clause contained in the DSA encompassed all claims of Respondent and counterclaims of Petitioners; and (3) the circuit court correctly granted the motion to compel alternative dispute resolution and to stay proceedings. Remanded.View "County of Hawaii v. UniDev, LLC" on Justia Law