Jury awards beaten
dock worker $2.3 million

A stevedore left partially blind after being beaten by another dock worker nine years ago was awarded more than $2.3 million yesterday by a state jury.

A Circuit Court jury found Bruce Perry responsible for the 1994 beating of Quentin "Rocky" Tahara that left him blind in his left eye. He was awarded $2,345,000 in damages in the civil trial.

Tahara's attorneys described him as a whistle-blower who was beaten after telling supervisors that Perry was not working a full shift.

"If we see people stealing and we do not do anything about it, we are contributing to their stealing," Tahara said after the verdict. "I believe their day will come."

Eric Seitz, who represented Perry, called the court's decision "absurd" and said he planned to pursue a new trial.

"Mr. Tahara admitted in the testimony that he provoked and started this fight," Seitz said. "How the jury could have ignored that is beyond me."

Mark McDougal, an attorney for the plaintiff, said Perry threw the first punch but missed and then Tahara hit him.

A defense witness testified that Tahara hit Perry three times and that Perry only hit Tahara once. But a doctor who treated Tahara testified the multiple skull and rib fractures sustained by the man did not appear to be the result of a single punch and fall.

"All this was was a fist fight between two people and Mr. Tahara lost," Seitz said.

Tahara spent three years in witness protection before returning to his job on the waterfront.

His attorneys said he should have been promoted to a crane operator job by now, but his disability prevents it.

The verdict yesterday came after a long legal battle, including two hung juries in a criminal suit.

"What this case is about is whether we're the kind of civilization that honors its heroes," said Greg Kafoury, one of the plaintiff's attorneys. "Today this jury did."

Seitz said Tahara's attorney's trumpeted their client as a whistle-blowing hero throughout the trial and the jury apparently agreed.

Seitz said his client did not have the means to pay the amount ordered.

"It'll never be collected," he said.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --