Oral Argument before the Intermediate Court of Appeals
No. 30644 Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 9 a.m.
LAHAINA FASHIONS, INC., a Hawai`i corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, v. BANK OF HAWAI`I, a Hawai`i corporation; HAWAIIAN TRUST COMPANY, LTD., as Trustee for Hawai`i Real Estate Equity Fund; HAWAI`I REAL ESTATE EQUITY FUND; PACIFIC CENTURY TRUST, a division of Bank of Hawaiʻi as Trustee of the Hawai`i Real Estate Equity Fund, Defendants-Appellees/Cross-Appellants, and JOHN DOES 1-10; and DOES ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants.
Attorney(s) for Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee: Philip H. Lowenthal and Benjamin Lowenthal
Joseph M. Alioto*
Attorney(s) for Defendants-Appellees/Cross-Appellants: Terence J. O’Toole, Judith A. Pavey, and Andrew J. Lautenbach (Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher)
COURT: Foley, Fujise and Reifurth, JJ.
*NOTE: Order Granting Motion to Reinstate Pro Hac Vice Admission of Joseph M. Alioto, filed 3/28/12.
SPECIAL NOTE: The above argument will take place in the Supreme Court courtroom on the Second Floor of Ali`iolani Hale, 417 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawai`i.
Plaintiff/Appellant/Cross-Appellee Lahaina Fashions, Inc. (“LFI”) appeals from the July 7, 2010 Final Judgment entered in favor of Defendants/Appellees/Cross-Appellants Bank of Hawai`i; Hawaiian Trust Company, Ltd.; Hawai`i Real Estate Equity Fund; and Pacific Century Trust. LFI asserted claims against Defendants for breach of fiduciary duty and against Bank of Hawaiʻi and Pacific Century Trust for tortious interference with prospective business advantage (“tortious interference”), alleging that Defendants defrauded LFI of a parcel of commercial property and thwarted LFI’s attempt to exercise a lucrative contractual option.
A jury trial was held. The Circuit Court granted Defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law (“JMOL”) as to the breach-of-fiduciary-duty claim but not as to the tortious-interference claim. The jury rendered a special verdict on the tortious-interference claim, finding that LFI had proved the claim and was entitled to pecuniary and punitive damages; however, the special verdict form also indicated that the jury found that LFI was aware of the tortious-interference claim more than two years prior to filing its complaint, placing the claim outside of the statute of limitations. After the Circuit Court had formally discharged the jury, some jurors claimed that the verdict was incorrectly rendered as to the statute-of-limitations issue. The Circuit Court held a hearing at which several jurors testified that the verdict did not reflect their decisions. Nevertheless, the Circuit Court denied LFI’s motion to correct the verdict.
On appeal, LFI contends that the Circuit Court erred by (1) refusing to correct the special verdict form and (2) granting Defendants’ JMOL motion on the breach-of-fiduciary-duty claim. LFI also argues that the Circuit Court erred by (3) excluding certain evidence and (4) refusing to disclose attorney-client communications. Defendants cross-appealed, asserting that they were entitled to judgment on the tortious-interference claim pursuant to their summary-judgment and JMOL motions.