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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court — SCWC-12-0000025

(Amended 03/29/17)

No. SCWC-12-0000025, Thursday, May 11, 2017, 8:45 a.m.

GORAN PLEHO, LLC, a Hawaii Limited Liability Company (dba Resorts Limousine Services), GORAN PLEHO and ANA MARIA PLEHO, Petitioners/Plaintiffs-Appellants/Cross-Appellees, vs. DAVID W. LACY, LACY AND JACKSON, LLLC, a Hawaii Limited Liability Law Company, Respondents/Defendants-Appellees/Cross-Appellants, and DRAGAN RNIC, Respondent/Defendant-Appellee.   

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

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorney for Petitioners Pleho, et al.:
  Peter Van Name Esser

Attorneys for Respondents Lacy, et al.:
  Keith K. Hiraoka, Jodie D. Roeca, and Norman K. Odani

Attorneys for Respondent Dragan RNIC:
  Robert G. Klein and David J. Minkin

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 01/26/17.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Plaintiffs-Appellants/Cross-Appellees/Petitioners Goran Pleho LLC, Goran Pleho, and Ana Maria Pleho (collectively, “Petitioners”) applied for certiorari from Intermediate Court of Appeals’ (ICA) October 13, 2016 Judgment, which affirmed in part and vacated in part the circuit court’s judgment against Petitioners.

This case arises out of Petitioners’ purchase of a Kona-based business, Resorts Limousine Services (RLS), from Dragan Rnic in 2005.  David W. Lacy, Esq., represented Petitioners in the transaction.  Petitioners sued Rnic, Lacy, and Lacy’s law firm, Lacy & Jackson LLLC, alleging that Rnic and Lacy misled Petitioners into buying RLS for more than it was worth.  Petitioners alleged, inter alia, counts of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, gross inadequacy of consideration, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, unfair and deceptive trade practices, punitive damages, and, against Lacy and his firm (collectively, “Lacy Parties”), legal malpractice.

  Petitioners settled their claims against Rnic.  Prior to trial, the circuit court dismissed or granted summary judgment on all of Goran and Ana Maria Pleho’s claims as individuals against Lacy Parties.  The court also dismissed or granted summary judgment on all of Goran Pleho LLC’s claims against Lacy Parties except for fraud, legal malpractice, and punitive damages.  Lacy Parties filed a motion in limine requesting that Petitioners be barred from presenting evidence regarding Petitioners’ assets.  The circuit court denied the motion in limine.

At trial, the circuit court granted judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) against Petitioners on their fraud and punitive damages claims.  The jury found Lacy Parties not liable on the legal malpractice claim.  The circuit court entered judgment against Petitioners on all counts, awarding attorney’s fees and costs to Lacy Parties.

Petitioners appealed to the ICA, and Lacy Parties filed a cross-appeal challenging the circuit court’s denial of the motion in limine.  The ICA partially vacated and remanded the circuit court’s judgment, finding that the circuit court 1) erroneously dismissed or granted summary judgment on Goran and Ana Maria Pleho’s claims as individuals for fraud, legal malpractice, and punitive damages, and 2) erroneously denied Lacy Parties’ motion in limine.  The ICA affirmed the circuit court’s judgment in all other respects.

Petitioners’ application for certiorari presents the following issues:

A. Did the ICA commit grave error when it vacated orders dismissing claims by real parties in interest Goran and [Ana] Maria for fraud and malpractice, which gutted this lawsuit, but affirmed dismissal of conspiracy, [intentional infliction of emotional distress], [negligent infliction of emotional distress], and unfair and deceptive trade practices, and a judgment against [Goran Pleho LLC] and $436,000 in fees and costs? 

B.  Did the ICA commit grave error when it affirmed mid-trial orders dismissing claims against Lacy by [Goran Pleho LLC] for fraud and punitive damages, despite substantial and credible evidence supporting those claims requiring their submission to the jury?

C.  Did the ICA commit grave error when it vacated the trial court’s order denying a motion in limine to bar evidence of loans to [Goran Pleho LLC] because of unrelated bankruptcy proceedings brought by Goran and [Ana] Maria, when Lacy failed to renew his objection to that evidence at trial?