Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCAP-14-0001363
No. SCAP-14-0001363, Thursday, January 19, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
MICHAEL PATRICK O’GRADY, Individually, and LEILONI O’GRADY, Individually, Petitioners/Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs. STATE OF HAWAIʻI, STATE OF HAWAIʻI DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Respondents/Defendants-Appellees, and THE COUNTY OF HAWAIʻI, HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC COMPANY, HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY, HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES, INC., Respondents/Defendants-Appellees.
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Aliʻiolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorneys for Petitioner:
Ronald G. Self and Rebecca A. Copeland
Attorneys for Respondent Dept. of Transportation:
Caron M. Inagaki, Randolph R. Slaton, and Henry S. Kim, Deputy Attorneys General
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Transfer, filed 09/23/15.
NOTE: Certificate of Recusal, by Associate Justice Paula A. Nakayama, filed 08/24/16.
NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey P. Crabtree, in place of Nakayama, J., recused, filed 09/20/16.
COURT: MER, CJ; SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ., and Circuit Court Judge Crabtree, in place of Nakayama, J., recused.
This case involves negligence and other claims against the State arising out of a vehicular accident that occurred on the Island of Hawaiʻi. The Petitioners brought suit against the State in the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (circuit court) seeking damages under four theories of liability: negligence, dangerous condition of public property, vicarious liability, and loss of consortium. The claims were based on injuries suffered by the Petitioners when a portion of a rockfall struck the Petitioners’ vehicle while they were driving along Route 11 on the Island of Hawaiʻi. Following a trial, the circuit court issued its decision concluding that the State owed the Petitioners a duty of care to maintain the highway in a reasonably safe condition and that the State breached this duty of care by not having a routine coordinated system of rockfall mitigation at the operational level. However, the circuit court concluded that Petitioners failed to prove that the State’s breach of its duty was the proximate cause of the Petitioners’ injuries. Accordingly, the circuit court concluded that the State was not liable to the Petitioners.
Petitioners raise two points of error on appeal. First, the Petitioners assert that the circuit court erred in holding that the State’s breach of its duty of care was not a proximate cause of the Petitioners’ injuries. Second, they assert that the circuit court erred in relying on the discretionary function defense to support its decision. The State maintains that it is not liable and argues that the evidence demonstrated that State engineers exercised reasonable engineering judgment, their conduct was not a substantial factor in causing the accident, and the State never had notice of an imminent problem at the accident site. This case was accepted for transfer from the Intermediate Court of Appeals.