Maui judge awards fees to attorney in ferry case
WAILUKU » The state and Hawaii Superferry have been ordered by a Maui Circuit Court judge to pay about $100,000 in legal fees to attorney Isaac Hall.
Hall represented Maui citizen and environmental groups in a lawsuit challenging a state shoreline assessment waiver for the Superferry for $40 million in harbor improvements.
The challenge eventually led the Hawaii Supreme Court to rule in favor of Hall's clients, but the Hawaii Legislature in special session last year passed a law exempting large passenger ferry vessels such as the Superferry from preparing environmental studies prior to operation.
Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza said Hall's clients Maui Tomorrow, the Sierra Club and the Kahului Harbor Coalition prevailed in the lawsuit and deserved the attorney's fees, despite the law later being changed in the Superferry's favor.
Cardoza's decision this week only applies to attorney's fees after the Hawaii Supreme Court issued its decision against the state and Superferry.
Hall had asked for more than $190,000 in attorney's fees, dating to when the conflict arose several years ago.
State Deputy Attorney General William Wynhoff said he will recommend to the attorney general that Cardoza's decision be appealed.
Wynhoff said the initial judgment was in the state's favor. That judgment was appealed and later ended up in the Hawaii Supreme Court.
"We don't think he's the prevailing party," Wynhoff said.
Meanwhile, Hall's clients plan to appeal the new law that exempted the Superferry from preparing an environmental assessment prior to operation.
Wynhoff declined to comment on the planned appeal.