Maui beach injury nets
visitor $391,000 award

The British citizen suffered
damage to his spinal cord
while swimming at Makena

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> Maui County and the state will pay more than $390,000 to a British citizen who suffered severe nerve damage as a result of a spinal injury from a shore break at a South Maui beach.

Bryan O'Connor sustained the spinal cord injury while at the state park at Makena on May 11, 1994.

Corporation Counsel James Takayesu said the county agreed to pay $316,000 and the state at least $75,000.

O'Connor charged that the state and county were negligent in failing to post warning signs and station lifeguards at the beach, despite being aware of dangerous ocean conditions. The county is in charge of overseeing the state beach.

Attorney James Krueger, representing O'Connor, said the beach is second only to Sandy Beach on Oahu for shore-break injuries.

Krueger said that following the filing of the lawsuit in 1994, state lawmakers passed legislation that resulted in more and better signs at state beaches, warning people about potentially dangerous conditions.

Krueger said he is also representing a Turkish citizen who was injured at the Makena shore break in September 1994, and became a quadriplegic.

The case involving Nejat Atahan of Turkey is scheduled to go to binding arbitration later this month, he said.

Takayesu said the placement of warning signs has helped to give the state and county immunity from lawsuits.

He said bodysurfing is an inherently dangerous activity.

"You can assume no matter what you do, some people are going to get hurt," he said.

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