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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court

No. SCWC-10-0000102, Thurday, December 4, 2014, 10 a.m.

NORMAN SAMSON and FRANCINE SAMSON, Individually, and as Guardians Prochein Ami of KU`ULEILANI SAMSON, a Minor, Petitioners/Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs. NOLA ANN NAHULU, Respondent/Defendant-Appellee.

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

Mililani High School Gymnasium
95-1200 Meheula Parkway
Mililani, HI 96789

Attorney for Petitioners:

Ronald Albu

Attorneys for Respondent:

Jonathan L. Ortiz, Wade J. Katano, and Jacqueline E. Thurston

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 08/11/14.

COURT: MER, C.J.; PAN, SSM, RWP, & MDW, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This appeal arises from a motor vehicle-pedestrian accident in which a vehicle operated by Respondent-Defendent-Appellee Nola Ann Nahulu (“Nahulu”) struck a minor (“Minor”) as she crossed Farrington Highway on foot. At trial, the parties disputed Nahulu’s speed and whether Minor was in a crosswalk at the time she was hit. A jury returned a unanimous special verdict finding Nahulu not negligent.

Petitioners-Plaintiffs-Appellants Norman Samson and Francine Samson (hereinafter “the Samsons”), Individually and as Guardians Prochein Ami of their daughter, Minor, challenge the circuit court’s (1) exclusion of a photograph with markings made or authorized by a witness that placed Minor in a crosswalk, (2) exclusion of certain testimony about Nahulu’s speed, (3) giving certain jury instructions, and (4) giving instructions, as a whole, that allegedly misstated the standard of care in automobile-pedestrian collisions. The ICA concluded that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion and affirmed the verdict.

The Samsons present the following questions on certiorari:

1. Did the ICA grievously err in affirming the verdict in favor of an SUV driver where erroneous instructions, taken as a whole, gave the wrongful impression that a pedestrian must strictly adhere to traffic rules or forfeit the right to any recovery from a negligent driver who injures the pedestrian.

2. Did the ICA grievously err in holding that, although the lower court erroneously excluded eyewitness testimony that Nahulu was “traveling at an unsafe speed,” the error was nevertheless harmless.

3. Did the ICA grievously err in excluding from evidence a copy of another photograph already in evidence on which a key eyewitness confirmed a marking on the photograph showing [Minor’s] location at the time Nahulu hit her (which was within the crosswalk), based on an erroneous objection to and erroneous finding of unfair prejudice.

4. Did the ICA grievously err in holding that an instruction that is vague, incomplete and grammatically incorrect concerning Nahulu’s duty of care, and therefore presumptively harmful, did not require reversal because the ICA concluded that the Samsons failed to show that the faulty instruction had a detrimental effect on them.