Friday, May 15, 2009

Judge Allows KPT Case to Continue in State Court, Despite State's Objections

On May 14, 2009, the Honorable Judge Sabrina McKenna denied in part and granted in part the State's motion to dismiss the habitability action brought by tenants at KPT (Faletogo v. Hawaii). The opinion can be viewed here.

The Court upheld the right of plaintiffs to pursue their major claims--breach of lease, breach of warranty of habitability, and breach of management contract (upholding the tenants claims as third party beneficiaries). The Court dismissed the tenants' unfair and deceptive practices claims, finding that the State had not waived sovereignty on those issues (i.e. ruling on state's rights grounds, rather than substantive issues) and found that Plaintiffs' claim for medical monitoring may be an appropriate remedy, but is not properly plead as a separate cause of action.

This victory allows Plaintiffs to pursue their claims for injunctive relief and monetary damages for the State's failure to maintain safe, habitable housing at Kuhio Park Terrace.

Victor Geminiani discussed the ruling, stating,"Tragically, the state of Hawaii has been arguing that they are not legally or morally bound to provide for any minimum level of services or conditions in public housing. It is clear from Judge McKenna's opinion that the state's position is absurd. It is also tragic that the state is spending so much energy and money in the defense of their argument and so little to provide tenants in KPT with hot water, sanitary garbage disposal, eradication from vermin, the basic elevator service and assistance for those that are disabled. In other state's the Attorney General's office is used to enforce rights, not defend against the state's illegal actions."

The State's motion to dismiss the tenants' federal disability discrimination claims will be heard in Federal Court on June 8, 2009 at 9:00 a.m.

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