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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court

No. SCWC-14-0000431, Thursday, September 15, 2016, 10 a.m.

ASSOCIATION OF APARTMENT OWNERS OF CENTURY CENTER, INC., by and through its Board of Directors, Petitioners/Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant-Appellee, vs. YOUNG IN AN, aka Young Ja Kim, AMBROSIA-SPA, INC., Respondents/Defendants-Counterclaimants-Appellants.

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

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

Attorneys for Petitioners:
R. Laree McGuire, Linda E. Ichiyama, Cheryl A. K. Fraine, and Jamila E. Jarmon

Attorneys for Respondents:
Gary Victor Dubin and Frederick J. Arensmeyer

NOTE:  Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 07/07/16.

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

Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioner/Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant-Appellee Association of the Apartment Owners of Century Center, Inc. (the AOAO) applied for writ of certiorari from the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ March 23, 2016 judgment, vacating a writ of possession, judgment for possession, and three orders entered by the District Court of the First Circuit.

The subject property (Property) is part of the Century Center condominiums and was purchased by Lisa Yongsonyi Nose in 2009. The AOAO sent several letters to Nose demanding payment of unpaid fees and eventually filed a lien on the Property. In the meantime, Nose entered into an agreement of sale with Young Jin An aka Young Ja Kim (An) for the Property, but a conveyance of title was never finalized. The AOAO eventually conducted a nonjudicial foreclosure in satisfaction of the lien and purchased the Property at a public auction.

The AOAO recorded an affidavit of sale and a quitclaim deed and then filed a complaint for summary possession in the district court against An and Ambrosia-Spa Inc. (together, Respondents). Respondents filed an answer and several motions arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the case pursuant to Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes § 604-5(d). To satisfy District Court Rules of Civil Procedure (DCRCP) Rule 12.1, Respondents submitted an affidavit signed by An, stating that she owned equitable interests in the Property and that the AOAO wrongfully foreclosed on the Property. The district court denied Respondents’ motions and, after a hearing on the merits of the AOAO’s complaint, filed a judgment for possession and a writ of possession in favor of the AOAO.

Respondents appealed to the ICA, arguing that the district court erred in exercising jurisdiction over the case because they had established under DCRCP Rule 12.1 that title over the Property was in question. The ICA agreed with Respondents, determining that An’s affidavit and the quitclaim deed attached to the AOAO’s complaint provided sufficient information regarding the source, nature, and extent of the title An claims to the Property. Accordingly, the ICA remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

The AOAO’s application for writ of certiorari presents three questions:

1. Did the ICA gravely err in holding the district court lacked jurisdiction because An did not sufficiently set forth the source, nature and extent of her claim to title in her affidavit as required under DCRCP 12.1?

2. Did the ICA commit grave error by improperly considering documents submitted by the AOAO to determine whether An had sufficiently raised an issue of title to bar the jurisdiction of the district court?

3. Is the ICA’s opinion notably inconsistent not only with its own prior decisions, but also with a Hawaiʻi Supreme Court decision, which requires Defendants to assert some credible claim to title?