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Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court

No. SCWC-29539, Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 11 a.m.

SHILO WILLIS, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. CRAIG SWAIN, FIRST INSURANCE COMPANY OF HAWAII, LTD., Respondents/Defendants-Appellees.

(Motor Vehicle Tort)

Attorney for Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant: Fernando L. Cosio

Attorney for Respondents/Defendants-Appellees: Bradford F.K. Bliss of Lyons, Brandt, Cook & Hiramatsu

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

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Gary W.B. Chang due to vacancy, filed 06/18/12.

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 06/19/12.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SRA, & SSM, JJ; Circuit Court Judge Gary W.B. Chang due to vacancy.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioner Shilo Willis, filed an Application for Writ of Certiorari (Application) seeking to vacate the March 9, 2012 judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) in Willis v. Swain, 126 Hawai`i 312, 270 P.3d 1042 (2012), affirming the December 11, 2008 judgment of the first circuit court.

On February 10, 1999, Petitioner was a passenger in an uninsured vehicle that rear-ended another vehicle. At the time of the accident, Petitioner was a public assistance recipient, and had been issued a “certificate” policy under the Joint Underwriting Program (JUP), administered by the State of Hawai`i Department of Human Services (DHS). Petitioner sought medical treatment for her injuries, and on July 21, 1999, she also applied for “assigned claims” coverage under JUP. On August 11, 1999, it was determined that Petitioner was entitled to receive benefits available under JUP, and Petitioner’s claim was assigned to Respondent First Insurance Company of Hawai`i, Ltd. On December 28, 1999, Respondent denied Petitioner’s request for coverage on the ground that at the time of the accident Petitioner had a certificate policy and that policy did not include uninsured motorist coverage.

Petitioner subsequently sued Respondent, for, in relevant part, bad faith handling of her assigned claim. On October 3, 2007, the circuit court granted Respondent’s motion for summary judgment, concluding, in relevant part, that there was no contract of insurance between Petitioner and Respondent, and thus that there could be no cognizable claim of bad faith in the absence of a contract. The ICA affirmed, holding that an underlying insurance contract was required in order to assert a claim of bad faith against an insurer. The ICA declined to address whether the court erred in concluding that Respondent did not act in bad faith.