Friday, March 13, 2015

County of Maui and State of Hawaii Liability

Civil liability of a governmental entity such as the County of Maui can be a complicated issue.  Governmental entities often attempt to limit their own liability by enacting legislation stating specifically saying they are not liable for certain categories of decisions.  Common exclusions are limited liability for planning decisions and discretionary functions.  An example of this in action is the Hawaii Revised Statute, HRS §662-19 which excludes public entities and employees from liability for injuries to someone using a public skateboard park.

Even though there can be exclusions for recovery from a governmental entity or a county, governmental bodies can still be liable for injuries.  State and County liability is often modeled after the Federal Tort Claims Act which allows recovery against the government for personal injury, wrongful death and property damage caused by negligence of a government employee.

This theory applies to the State of Hawaii and County of Maui also.  There have been successful lawsuits and settlements obtained from the County and State due to negligence.  Not all lawsuits against the County or State are successful.  However, many different suits have been filed.

  •  In 2010 a woman sued the Maui Police Department for extortion and theft. 
  •  In 2012, a golfer at the Waiehu Golf Course sued Maui County for negligence after he was attacked and injured by a goose on the greens.  
  •  Recent lawsuits have also claimed County negligence in not properly maintaining roads which can cause vehicle accidents. 

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