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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–No. SCWC-14-0000842

No. SCWC-14-0000842, Thursday, September 7, 2017, 8:45 a.m.

HAWAIIAN DREDGING CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC., Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. FUJIKAWA ASSOCIATES, INC., dba Continental Mechanical of the Pacific, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee.

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

Attorneys for Petitioner:

Kenneth K. Fukunaga and Sheree Kon-Herrera

Attorneys for Respondent:

James Shin and Jodie D. Roeca

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 07/07/17.

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

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee Fujikawa Associates, Inc. dba Continental Mechanical of the Pacific (Fujikawa) applied for writ of certiorari from the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ (ICA) March 29, 2017 Judgment, which vacated the Circuit Court of the First Circuit’s (circuit court) May 2, 2014 judgment against Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc. (HDCC).

This case arises out of a worksite accident in which an HDCC employee was injured, allegedly due to the fault of Fujikawa. HDCC sued Petitioner for the costs of the employee’s workers’ compensation benefits based upon their subcontractor agreement (Subcontract), which included an indemnity clause for “all liabilities” attributable to Fujikawa. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Fujikawa.

HDCC appealed to the ICA, arguing that Fujikawa was liable for workers’ compensation payments under the plain meaning of the Subcontract. The ICA vacated the circuit court’s judgment, finding that the Subcontract’s indemnification clause should be interpreted as encompassing workers’ compensation benefits.

Petitioner’s application for writ of certiorari presents the following questions:

1. Did the ICA misapply Hawai`i law on indemnity clauses which must be strictly construed against the indemnitee with a clear and unequivocal statement of intent?

2. Did the ICA misapply basic contract law requiring that the contract be interpreted as a whole?

3. Does the ICA’s ruling impair or contravene the workers’ compensation scheme promulgated by the Hawai`i legislature?

4. Does the ICA’s ruling offend well-established public policy encouraging settlement of the injured workers’ claim?