Oral Argument before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-13-0000703, Monday, November 24, 2014, 2:15 p.m.
GENE WONG, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, vs. HAWAIIAN AIRLINES, INC., Respondent/Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorney for Petitioner:
R. Steven Geshell
Attorneys for Respondent:
C. Michael Heihre and Allison Mizuo Lee
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 08/14/14.
COURT: MER, C.J.; PAN, SSM, RWP, & MDW, JJ.
Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee Gene Wong (Petitioner) timely filed an application for a writ of certiorari (Application) from the June 25, 2014 judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ (ICA), issued pursuant to its May 23, 2014 Summary Disposition Order (SDO). The SDO affirmed the Circuit Court of the First Circuit’s (circuit court) Order Granting Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Defendant/Respondent Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.’s (Respondent) Motion for Summary Judgment and Final Judgment.
Petitioner, a retired pilot, states that a Respondent representative incorrectly informed him that if he chose to forego enrolling in Medicare Part B, he could enroll later at no penalty. Later, a representative informed Petitioner that he would be subject to late penalties if he enrolled in the Medicare program.
Petitioner filed a complaint against Respondent alleging negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair or deceptive practices under Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 480 (UDAP Claim). Respondent filed a summary judgment motion and the circuit court granted Respondent summary judgment on all of Petitioner’s claims. The circuit court also granted Respondent’s motion for costs.
Petitioner timely filed a notice of appeal to the ICA. Petitioner argued that the circuit court erred in concluding that Petitioner’s negligence claims were preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Railway Labor Act (RLA), that the circuit court erred in concluding that the UDAP Claim was not applicable to a former employee’s claim against his former employer, and that his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection were violated by the circuit court’s dismissal of his claims. Petitioner also argued that the circuit court erred in taxing excessive costs against Petitioner and that Respondent’s motion for costs was untimely. Respondent answered each of Petitioner’s points of error by arguing that the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment was correct and also cross-appealed on the issue of Petitioner’s standing.
The ICA affirmed the circuit court. The ICA found that Petitioner’s liability for late enrollment penalties was a sufficiently cognizable injury to confer standing. The ICA concluded that the circuit court did not rule that ERISA preempted Petitioner’s negligence claims, and upheld the circuit court’s decision that the negligence claims were preempted by the RLA. The ICA held that the circuit court did not err in dismissing the UDAP claim. Finally, the ICA held that the circuit court did not err in awarding Respondent costs and that Petitioner failed to show that the award of costs was inequitable.
In the Application, Petitioner identified four errors in the ICA decision: (1) affirmance of the circuit court’s decision that Petitioner’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims were preempted by the RLA; (2) affirmance of the circuit court’s decision that Petitioner’s UDAP Claim failed because the alleged violation did not occur in the course of trade or commerce; (3) affirmance of the circuit court’s award of costs; and (4) refusal to consider Petitioner’s constitutional claims. Respondent countered each of Petitioner’s points of error by arguing that the decision of the ICA was correct.