Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Hawaii

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The Supreme Court expressly rejected the Twombly/Iqbal “plausibility” pleading standard in this case and reaffirmed that in Hawai’i state courts, the traditional “notice” pleading standard governs. On the first appeal before the Supreme Court, the Court vacated a foreclosure decree based on issues of fact regarding whether Bank of America, N.A. held the note at the time the foreclosure lawsuit was filed. The Court remanded the case to the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) for a determination of whether the circuit court erred by dismissing the homeowner’s counterclaim before granting summary judgment for foreclosure in favor of Bank of America. On remand, the ICA upheld the dismissal of three counts, including a wrongful foreclosure count, in the homeowner’s counterclaim. The homeowner appealed, arguing that the ICA applied the wrong pleading standard. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal, holding (1) a pleading must meet the traditional “notice” standard to overcome a Haw. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss; and (2) a party may bring a claim for wrongful foreclosure before the foreclosure actually occurs. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Reyes-Toledo" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the time to file a motion to vacate an arbitration award is limited by the opposing party’s filing of a motion to confirm and how an order denying a motion to vacate an arbitration award can properly be appealed. After receiving notice of an arbitrator’s award in their favor, Plaintiffs filed a motion to confirm the award. Before the ninety-day period in which Defendants could file a motion to vacate the award had expired, the circuit court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to confirm. Defendants, then moved to vacate the award within the ninety-day period. The circuit court denied the motion to vacate. Defendants appealed the judgment of confirmation and the order denying the motion to vacate. The ICA dismissed the appeal. Thereafter, the circuit court amended its order to “again confirm” the award to allow Defendants to appeal. The ICA dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that because Defendants timely appealed an order that amended the circuit court’s prior order denying their motion to vacate in a “material and substantial respect” and because Defendants filed their motion to vacate within the statutory period, the ICA erred in dismissing the appeal. View "Bennett v. Chung" on Justia Law

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At issue on appeal was whether a motion for sanctions may be dismissed without prejudice when the underlying facts and issues allegedly establishing the sanctionable conduct are also at issue in another pending case involving the same parties. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed the motion for sanctions without prejudice where the district court would likely need to consider many of the same factual issues that were also at play in the pending circuit court action; and (2) while the signature of a court clerk or judge is generally necessary for appellate review of a final order, the signed filings related to the order being appealed were sufficient in this case to provide appellate jurisdiction. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Greenspon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the tax court erred in determining that the timeliness of an appeal of real property tax assessments was determined by county ordinance and not state law. Appellant filed a notice of appeal to the tax court for each of fourteen parcels challenging the City Council of the City and County of Honolulu’s assessment notices. The notices of appeal were filed the next business day following the deadline set by a county real property tax ordinance. The appeal deadline fell on a Sunday and was followed by a State holiday. The tax court dismissed the appeals, concluding that the county ordinance superseded the “weekend rule” established by Hawai’i state law. The Supreme Court vacated the tax court, holding (1) the City did not possess the constitutional authority to invalidate via an ordinance the statutory weekend rule as it applied to the tax court’s jurisdiction; and (2) therefore, Appellant’s notices of appeal were timely filed. View "Kalaeloa Ventures, LLC v. City & County of Honolulu" on Justia Law

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In January 2007, Choy rear-ended Jiminez's vehicle, pushing that vehicle forward, so that it hit the rear of a vehicle driven by Aggasid. Medeiros testified that she was helping Aggasid transport a patient to a doctor’s appointment at the time of the accident and that she began to experience pain in her back after the impact, leading to physical therapy and two surgeries. Medeiros was unable to work for more than three years. Through worker’s compensation, Medeiros received $153,949.75 in medical bill reimbursements and $105,356.62 in temporary and permanent disability benefits. Medeiros sued Choy. Medeiros unsuccessfully sought to preclude witnesses from testifying regarding the presence of an unrestrained child in Aggasid’s vehicle. Choy disputed whether Medeiros was in the course of her employment at the time of the accident and argued that she had lied to secure an unwarranted payout. The jury found that Choy was not the legal cause of her injuries. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated, holding that a requested jury instruction, barring consideration of Medeiros’s motive, should have been given. The Supreme Court of Hawaii affirmed and remanded for a new trial. The plaintiff’s motives for bringing suit were irrelevant to the merits of her claim and her credibility as a witness. Given the evidence adduced at trial, the jury should have been instructed as Medeiros requested. View "Medeiros v. Choy." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court prospectively held that when a party to a circuit court civil case timely appeals a purportedly appealable final judgment that is later determined not to meet the appealability requirements of Jenkins v. Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright, 869 P.2d 1334, 1335 (Haw. 1994), rather than dismiss the appeal, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) must temporarily remand the case to the circuit court for entry of an appealable final judgment and directions to supplement the record on appeal with the final judgment. The Supreme Court held that the ICA did not err in dismissing Defendant’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that Defendant’s third notice of appeal was untimely and because the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to review the dismissal of Defendant’s second notice of appeal because she did not seek certiorari review of that dismissal. Although the court lacked jurisdiction over this case, the dismissal of Defendant’s second notice of appeal and the circumstances of the case led to the court’s reexamination of its previous mandate that appeals be dismissed when a purported circuit court final judgment fails to meet appealability requirements. View "State v. Joshua" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Petitioners’ request for costs but denied their request for an award of attorney’s fees in their action against the State of Hawaii and the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation. The Supreme Court held (1) Haw. Rev. Stat. 662-9 allows a court to award attorney’s fees only to the extent permitted under Haw. Rev. Stat. 662-12; (2) Petitioners’ request for recovery of attorney’s fees under section 662-9 and 662-12 is premature; and (3) Haw. Rev. Stat. 662-9 authorizes the award of costs against the State, and Petitioners are the prevailing parties under section 662-9. View "O’Grady v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the intermediate court of appeals’ (ICA) judgment denying without prejudice Philip Kozma’s request for attorneys’ fees related to his appeal but vacated the portion of the ICA’s judgment denying costs. The appeal was related to a foreclosure action brought by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. The circuit court granted Deutsche Bank’s motion for summary judgment and decree of foreclosure. On appeal, the ICA vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings. Upon Kozma’s request seeking attorney’s fees and costs related to his appeal, the ICA determined that Kozma was not a “prevailing party’ at this point in the proceeding. The Supreme Court held (1) the ICA did not err in denying Kozma’s request for attorney’s fees because there was no “prevailing party” entitled to such fees under Haw. Rev. Sat. 607-14; but (2) the ICA incorrectly concluded that Kozma was not entitled to costs pursuant to Haw. R. App. P. 39. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Kozma" on Justia Law

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Petitioner applied for certiorari review of the ICA's order dismissing her appeal from an unfavorable summary judgment order. The Supreme Court of Hawai'i vacated the dismissal order because all claims against all parties have been resolved and entry of a final appealable judgment was warranted. The court remanded with instructions to temporarily remand the case to the circuit court to enter an appealable final judgment, to direct the circuit court to supplement the record on appeal with the final judgment, and to then proceed to consider the appeal accordingly. View "Waikiki v. Ho'omaka Village Ass'n" on Justia Law

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Lanric Hyland appealed from a county clerk decision to the local board of registration for the County of Hawaii. The local board determined that Hyland mailed his appeal within ten days of service of the county clerk’s decision based in part on its determination that October 13 was a holiday, thus tolling his appeal deadline for that day. Nevertheless, the board ruled that his appeal was untimely because the board did not receive his appeal until after the deadline, and therefore, it was without jurisdiction to review the appeal. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed, but also determined that Hyland did not mail his letter within the ten-day filing period because the second Monday in October - recognized by the federal government as Columbus Day - is not a Hawaii state holiday. The Supreme Court vacated the decisions below, holding (1) the board had jurisdiction to consider the merits of Hyland’s appeal because the appeal letter was mailed within ten days of service of the county clerk decision; and (2) the second Monday in October is a holiday for purposes of the computation of time as to when an act is to be done under Haw. Rev. Stat. 1-29. Remanded. View "Hyland v. Gonzales" on Justia Law