On January 19, 2017, the HAWSCT will hear oral arguments in Michael Patrick O’Grady and Leiloni O’Grady vs. State of Hawaii, State Department of Transportation, et. al, SCAP-1409991363, a case the court accepted on transfer to review the circuit court’s decision in favor of the State on claims raised by the O’Gradys after a rockslide caused a bolder to hit their vehicle on Route 11 on the Big Island.
In the underlying case, the O’Gradys filed a suit alleging negligence and other claims against the State. After a bench trial, the circuit court ruled that the State owed the O’Gradys a duty of care to maintain a safe highway and that the State breached the duty (two of the elements of the O’Gradys’ claim). There was also evidence at trial that the O'Gradys were injured (another element of the O’Gradys’ claim). However, the circuit court then decided that the State was not the proximate cause of the O'Gradys’ injuries (the final element of the O’Gradys’ claim), and ruled in favor of the State.
The HAWSCT website sets forth the parties arguments on appeal as:
“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.”
The HAWSCT’s order accepting transfer is available here.
** Disclosure: this blogger represents the petitioners but makes no representation through this post of any particular outcome in this case, or that any similar outcome may occur in any other case.