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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-28592, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 10 a.m.
HAWAIIAN ASSOCIATION OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS, A Hawaiʻi Non-Profit Corporation, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant-Cross-Appellee, vs. STACEY T.J. WONG, As Trustee of the Eric A. Knudsen Trust, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee-Cross-Appellant.
Attorneys for Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee-Cross-Appellant:
Michael D. Tom, Lyle M. Ishida, and David R. Harada-Stone of Tom Petrus & Miller, LLLC
Attorneys for Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant-Cross-Appellee:
Michael R. Marsh, James M. Cribley, and Mark G. Valencia of Case Lombardi & Pettit
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 09/06/12.
COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SRA, SSM,& RWP, JJ.
Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee-Cross-Appellant Stacey T.J. Wong (“Wong”), as Trustee of the Eric A. Knudsen Trust (“EAK Trust”), filed an application for writ of certiorari to review the June 25, 2012 Judgment on Appeal of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”), issued pursuant to its April 16, 2012 Memorandum Opinion. The ICA’s opinion vacated a portion of the May 21, 2007 Amended Final Judgment of the Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit (“circuit court”) which granted summary judgment to Wong on a claim for declaratory judgment regarding the permissible uses of a parcel of property pursuant to a lease agreement between EAK Trust and the Hawaiian Association of Seventh Day Adventists (“SDA”). The ICA affirmed the remainder of the circuit court’s final judgment, which granted summary judgment to SDA on Wong’s counterclaims for termination of the lease and damages for breach of contract and/or unjust enrichment. In addition, the ICA vacated the circuit court’s February 22, 2006 Order Granting Wong’s Motion for Taxation of Costs and Award of Attorneys’ Fees, and it awarded costs (though not attorneys’ fees) to SDA as the prevailing party on appeal.
On certiorari, Wong argues that the ICA gravely erred because: (1) SDA’s practice of renting cabins on the property to the general public violated the unambiguous terms of the lease; (2) he was entitled to termination of the lease due to SDA’s intentional, willful, or grossly negligent breach; (3) he was entitled to monetary damages based on this breach; and (4) he was entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs.
In response, SDA argues that the ICA did not err because: (1) the lease unambiguously permits the use of vacation residences by the general public; (2) termination was inappropriate because, pursuant to a provision contained in the lease, SDA had timely cured any alleged violations upon written notice from Wong; (3) monetary damages were unavailable because the lease did not contain a penalty provision, SDA did not profit from prohibited operations, and the existence of a valid contract would preclude damages for unjust enrichment; and (4) Wong was not entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs because SDA had prevailed on every issue in the Counterclaim and, on appeal, it had prevailed on its interpretation of the lease’s use provisions.