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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court, SCWC-12-0000753

Posted on Sep 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

(Amended 07/11/16)

No. SCWC-12-0000753, Thursday, September 1, 2016, 10:00 a.m.

LEAH CASTRO, individually and as personal representative of the ESTATE OF BRIANDALYNNE CASTRO, deceased minor, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. LEROY MELCHOR, in his official capacity; WANNA BHALANG, in her official capacity; TOMI BRADLEY, in her official capacity; STATE OF HAWAI I,; and HAWAI I DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, Petitioners/Defendants-Appellants, and AMY YASUNAGA, in her official capacity; ROBERTA MARKS, in her official capacity; KENNETH ZIENKIEWICZ, M.D., in his official capacity; and KEITH WAKABAYASHI, in his official capacity, Respondents/Defendants-Appellees.

The above-captioned case was set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorneys for Petitioners:

Caron M. Inagaki, Marie Manuele Gavigan, and Henry S. Kim, Deputy Attorneys General

Attorney for Respondent Castro:

Sue V. Hansen

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 06/09/16.

NOTE: Order postponing oral argument from 07/21/16 to 09/01/16, at 10:00 a.m., filed 07/08/16.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

  Brief Description:

Petitioners/Defendants-Appellants Leroy Melchor, Wanna Bhalang, Tomi Bradley (all in their official capacities), State of Hawai i, and the Hawai i Department of Public Safety (Petitioners) appeal from the February 29, 2016 judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirming the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (circuit court)’s July 31, 2012 judgment awarding damages both to Castro and to the estate of her unborn child.

This case arises from the pregnancy of Leah Castro, who gave birth to a stillborn baby while incarcerated at the Oahu Community Correctional Center. Castro brought suit against Petitioners for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, asserting that Petitioners’ failure to provide her with timely and adequate medical care led to the death of her child. The circuit court ruled in Castro’s favor, awarding her $250,000 for negligent infliction of emotional distress and $100,000 for loss of filial consortium, and awarding $250,000 to Baby Castro’s estate “for the loss of life itself and for all of the damages that Baby Castro would have been entitled to had she been alive, such as loss of enjoyment of life.”

On appeal, the ICA affirmed the circuit court’s decision and award. Petitioners subsequently filed their application for writ of certiorari to this court, presenting two questions:

  1. Whether the award of loss of enjoyment of life damages for a stillborn fetus was error.
 2. Whether the award of $250,000 in damages to the estate of Baby Castro was error when there was no evidence presented to justify that monetary amount.