State settles claims for $5.1M
Accidents and claims against the state worth $5.1 million will be settled as Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, acting governor, signed Senate Bill 2961 into law yesterday.
Aiona has taken on the duties of governor while Gov. Lingle is on a trip to Israel.
One of the largest settlements, among a total of 39 cases, was $930,964 paid to a man for a 2003 bicycle accident on Kalanianaole Highway near the Olomana Golf Course.
The man, according to testimony by the state attorney general, was riding his bike and hit the base of a traffic delineator that separated the highway from a bike lane, causing him to fly off his bike.
"The impact from the fall caused his helmet to split and plaintiff sustained a severe head injury," the attorney general said in written testimony to the Legislature. "Plaintiffs refused settlement for any amount less than $1,000,000. The case proceeded to trial, which resulted in a judgment against the state for $930,964.85."
In another case, $833,000 was paid to the family of a 10-year old Maui girl who was abused.
George Kahoohanohano, a retired Maui police captain and the grandfather of Dasia Morales-Kahoohanohano, said when the settlement was announced this year: "I don't want anyone else to go through what we went through."
In February 2001, Dasia's mother and her boyfriend brought the girl to the hospital with a broken leg. Doctors at Maui Memorial Medical Center reported the case to Child Protective Services because they suspected child abuse.
The child was returned to her mother's custody without written restrictions and the investigator went on vacation for two weeks without completing the investigation or handing it off to another investigator, according to the lawsuit.
Two months after the broken-leg incident, Dasia's mother brought her to a pediatrician in critical condition with broken bones, a torn intestine, severe bruises and bleeding inside her skull. Dasia also suffered a leg injury, from which she is still recovering.
Dasia's mother and her ex-boyfriend were investigated by Maui police for possible child abuse, but no charges were brought. The verdict in the suit was appealed up to the state Supreme Court, but the state lost the appeal.
The state also paid $350,000 to the teenage victim of rape by a guard at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility in 2003. The award was made to the woman and her foster parents last year.
The case had been listed by both the state and the American Civil Liberties Union as one of the reasons for a series of reforms at the youth prison. In testimony, Attorney General Mark Bennett said the claims were for "negligent supervision and failure to protect."