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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court-SCWC-13-0003500

No. SCWC-13-3500, Thursday, December 1, 2016, 8:45 a.m.

SAMANTHA THERESALYN MEDEIROS, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. BRADLEY KONG CHOY, 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

Attorney for Petitioner:

Thomas Tsuchiyama

Attorney for Respondent:

Derek S. Nakamura

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 09/26/16.

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

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee Bradley Kong Choy (Choy) applied for a writ of certiorari from the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ (ICA) June 16, 2016 Memorandum Opinion (ICA opinion). The ICA vacated the judgment of the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (circuit court) and remanded the case for proceedings consistent with the ICA opinion.

This case arose out of a 2007 car accident between Choy and Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant Samantha Theresalyn Medeiros (Medeiros). Choy’s vehicle rear-ended a vehicle, which in turn rear-ended the vehicle in which Medeiros alleges she was a passenger. Medeiros contends that she was “on the job” and transporting a patient at the time of the accident. Choy contends that there was an unrestrained child in the backseat of the vehicle, and disputes that Medeiros was present in the vehicle or “on the job” when the accident occurred.
Medeiros filed a worker’s compensation claim for the injuries she allegedly sustained as a result of the accident and was awarded benefits. Additionally, Medeiros filed a civil suit against Choy, seeking damages.

Prior to trial, Medeiros filed a motion in limine, seeking to exclude evidence that there was an unrestrained child in Medeiros’s vehicle at the time of the accident. The circuit court denied this motion, and testimony about the unrestrained child was given at trial.

Also prior to trial, Medeiros filed a proposed jury instruction pursuant to Kobashigawa v. Silva, 129 Hawaiʻi 313, 300 P.3d 579 (2013), seeking to exclude any reference to Medeiros’s motivation for filing the suit. The circuit court refused this instruction, and, during closing arguments, counsel for Choy was allowed to comment on Medeiros’s motive for filing the worker’s compensation claim and for filing the current suit.

The jurors returned a special verdict in favor of Choy, holding that Choy’s negligence was not the legal cause of Medeiros’s injuries. Medeiros appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred when it: 1) allowed in evidence of the unrestrained child, and 2) refused the Kobashigawa instruction and allowed Choy to comment on Medeiros’s motive for filing the suit. The ICA held that the circuit court erred under these two points, and reversed and remanded the case to the circuit court.

Choy raises two questions for our review: 1) whether the ICA erred when it held that the circuit court abused its discretion in allowing in evidence of the unrestrained child, and 2) whether the ICA erred when it held that the circuit court erred in denying Medeiros’s proposed jury instruction regarding motive.