Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii’

Gasoline prices spike

You’d think one advantage of electing a Texas oil guy as president would be that, when prices at the pump react to a genuinely massive supply disruption as supply and demand predict they will, he’d know better than to direct public anger toward the ill-defined offense of “price gouging”. Apparently you’d be wrong, though:

“I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this -– whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud,” Bush said. “And I’ve made that clear to our attorney general. The citizens ought to be working together.”

(Adam Nossiter, “More National Guardsmen are sent in”, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 1). More: Mark Kleiman got there first (Sept. 1)(via Julian Sanchez). See also Dan Mitchell of Heritage at C-Log (Aug. 31). And Don Boudreaux, after thanking Hawaiian pols, wonders (Aug. 29):

Would it make sense to haul before Congress a group of real-estate agents, or a few homeowners, or some home-builders to accuse them publicly of causing the recent surge in real-estate prices?

Yet more, this time from Jane Galt (Sept. 1): “Prices of everything rise after a disaster, and a good thing too, since that encourages people and material to flood into the damaged area, where they’re needed most.”

Honeymoon shark attack lawsuit

Nahid Davoodabadi, honeymooning in Hawaii in 1999, disappeared while kayaking. Her husband, Manouchehr Monazzami-Taghadomi, said she was killed by a shark, and set about suing the kayak rental company, Extreme Sports Hawaii, for the accident and the federal government for failing to rescue him. Extreme noted to a jury that the company had told the couple to kayak in an area close to shore protected from winds. Extreme also noted that Maui police found the kayak, its paddles, and a lifejacket–the latter without any tears or bites (though with all the buckles unbuckled). The police also found two paddles near the kayak, one leaning against rocks, though Monazzami said, among other fishy things, that he lost one of the paddles in the shark attack. (Police never charged Monazzami, who successfully petitioned a Hawaii court to have his wife declared dead, rather than missing.) The jury exonerated the company. The Ninth Circuit recently issued a ruling affirming on technical grounds the district court’s summary judgment for the government. It appears Extreme settled the case for some unknown amount rather than go through the expense of litigating the appeal. (Monazzami-Taghadomi v. United States (9th Cir. Mar. 22, 2005); Debra Barayuga, “Company not guilty in Maui kayak death”, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, May 9, 2003; “Kayak business cleared in 1999 death”, Honolulu Advertiser, May 12, 2003; Reuters, Mar. 23, 1999; Jaymes K. Song and Gary T. Kubota, “‘Unusual’: No blood on kayak”, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Mar. 26, 1999; Charles Memminger, “Shark tale now is part of our history”, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Mar. 26, 1999; Brian Perry, “Tourists wary in wake of latest shark attack”, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Apr. 1, 1999; Monazzami-Taghadomi v. 25 Knots Inc. (D. Hawaii, No. CV01-00171 ACK-KSC)). For legal scholars: one asks whether anything remains of the doctrine of “assumption of the risk” if a company called “Extreme Sports Hawaii” can’t invoke it without going through a trial and an appeal.

Today’s police chase lawsuit round-up

In Connecticut, the town of Norwalk is paying $1.5 million in a settlement with pedestrians hit by a drunk driver fleeing police. Plaintiffs had sought millions. “[Julia] Johnson’s estate sought additional compensation for her death from cancer in August 2001. The estate argued that Johnson’s injuries caused her to miss a scheduled mammogram that would have caught the cancer in its early stages.” The settlement seems to be a “moral hazard” artifact of the insurance policy, which covered negligence, but not recklessness; the judge had ruled the city couldn’t be held liable for negligence, and the city worried that a jury sympathizing with the plaintiffs would’ve simply found the quantum of recklessness needed so they could award damages. This is a useful example about the inefficacy of immunity statutes that protect against “negligence” but not “gross negligence.” (Brian Lockhart, “City pays $1.5M to settle suit with hurt pedestrians”, Stamford Advocate, Mar. 14). Unrelatedly, Norwalk is also the defendant in a suit by Linda Gorman. Gorman took a job in the town clerk’s office , interacting with the general public, but complains that the town isn’t doing enough to deal with her sensitivity to fragrances and perfumes. (Brian Lockhart, “Norwalk City Hall employee files lawsuit over perfume”, Stamford Advocate, Mar. 1).

Thousands of miles away, a jury found Hawaii County 34% responsible for the death of Ellison Sweezey, who was killed when Richard Rosario, a 20-year-old crystal meth addict fleeing police, ran a red light and struck her car. Cost to taxpayers: $1.9 million. If there were joint and several liability, the county would also be on the hook for Rosario’s share. (Rod Thompson, “Jury awards $5.6M in death from car chase”, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Mar. 9; “$5.6M awarded to family of Big Island crash victim”, Honolulu Advertiser, Mar. 9). Hawaii police have undergone training to limit their willingness to chase suspects, with the expected counterproductive result (which we discussed Sep. 21, 2003) that criminals are now more likely to flee because their chances of escape have increased. (Rod Thompson, “Car theft suspect flees after slow-speed pursuit”, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Mar. 10). Other car-chase lawsuits: Jan. 3; Feb. 18, 2004 (& letter to the editor, Apr. 12).

Give us 40 percent of Colo. (or one casino site)

“The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma filed a claim Wednesday for 27 million acres given to the tribes in a 19th century treaty but said they would settle for 500 acres to build a casino in a symbolic return to Colorado. The petition, filed with the Department of Interior, covers northeastern Colorado and about 40 percent of the state.” And just like many Eastern tribes or would-be tribes, they’ve got an investor: “Steve Hillard, a Longmont venture capitalist who pulled together investors for the plan, dubbed the ‘Homecoming Project,’ said the unresolved settlement claims could tie up land and water sales in northeastern Colorado until an agreement is reached. Hillard said similar claims in Hawaii, New York, South Carolina and Texas have slowed real estate sales.” (Deborah Frazier, “Indians file huge land claim”, Rocky Mountain News, Apr. 15). For more on Indian land claim blackmail, see Feb. 9 and Nov. 2-4, 2001, among many others.

$200 K for Moose carding?

Gregg Easterbrook’s new and already indispensable weblog for the New Republic has some harsh words (Sept. 15) for former Montgomery County, Maryland police chief Charles Moose, of sniper-investigation fame. In an episode that has received little press attention, Moose extracted something on the order of $200,000 from the Marriott hotel chain after threatening a race-bias lawsuit over an incident last December in which a guard demanded to see his room key at an exclusive beach in Hawaii (“Top cop in sniper case settles isle bias lawsuit”, AP/Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Aug. 8).