UH insurer sues city over Manoa flood
The insurance company for the University of Hawaii-Manoa is suing the city and county of Honolulu over the Oct. 30, 2004, flood, which caused an estimated $81 million in damage to the campus.
The flood occurred when Manoa Stream overflowed at the city-owned Woodlawn Drive Bridge.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in state Circuit Court, alleges the city failed to remove debris from the area upstream of the bridge and "properly maintain, update and/or replace the bridge."
Mark Matsunaga, a city spokesman, said Friday the city has not yet seen the lawsuit and cannot comment.
Landmark American Insurance Co. is seeking the $25 million that the Oklahoma-based corporation paid the state for flood damage, plus interest and attorneys' fees.
The lawsuit notes that the Woodlawn Drive Bridge was the site of a flood several years prior to the 2004 flood and that the city was "well aware that its Woodlawn Drive Bridge was a choke point for Manoa Stream and was likely to divert storm water flows in the future."
The flood caused major damage to Hamilton Library, the Biomedical Sciences building and several other buildings on the UH-Manoa campus. It also damaged private homes and Noelani Elementary School.
The filing of the lawsuit just before the two-year anniversary of the flood is not coincidence.
Michael O'Connor, the local attorney for the insurance company, said state and case law says lawsuits have to be filed within two years after the incident or the date negligence is discovered.
Matsunaga said people have filed claims seeking restitution because of the flooding, but no other lawsuits have been filed.
Since the flood, the city has been working with the state to dredge the area under the bridge and is repairing concrete sections of the stream at Kahaloa Drive and East Manoa Road.
Earlier this month, Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced an educational campaign aimed at getting landowners who own streams or land near streams to help keep waterways clear to prevent future floods.