Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Hawaii
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In this ejectment action, the Supreme Court granted Appellant's motion for in forma pauperis (IFP) status on appeal, vacated the Intermediate Court of Appeals' (ICA) order dismissing appeal, and remanded this case to the ICA for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, holding that the ICA abused its discretion in ordering Appellant to file IFP motions in the district court, in denying Appellant's second IFP motion based on Haw. Rev. Stat. 607-3 and Haw. R. App. P. 24, and then in dismissing her appeal. Appellant, a self-represented defendant in a residential ejectment case, appealed a judgment and writ of possession filed by the district court. Appellant filed two motions to proceed IFP. The ICA denied both motions and ordered Appellant either to file an IFP motion in the district court within ten days or pay the filing fees in full. When Appellant did neither, the ICA dismissed Appellant's appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that when courts have discretion in applying court rules or statutes, they must consider the access to justice principle of reducing barriers to the civil justice system for self-represented litigants. View "Estate Administrative Services LLC v. Mohulamu" on Justia Law

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In this commercial landlord-tenant dispute the Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating the circuit court's judgment finding that Tenant was not entitled to damages and that Tenant's claims for equitable relief were moot, holding that the ICA erred in two of its holdings. Landlords performed a self-help eviction after Tenant allegedly breached the lease. Tenant filed this complaint alleging violations of Haw. Rev. Stat. 654-1, 480-2, 480-13, and 480-13.5, and intentional infliction of emotional distress and requesting injunctive relief and damages. The circuit court concluded that Tenant was not entitled to damages because two of the breaches were material and that Tenant's equitable relief claims, including a claim for replevin seeking access to his personal property, were moot. The ICA vacated the circuit court's judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment in part, holding that the ICA (1) correctly found that the breaches were not material; (2) should not have analyzed the merits of the replevin claim because Tenant had already retrieved his personal property at the time of trial; and (3) misapplied the law of equitable relief because all the equitable claims were moot. View "Kahawaiolaa v. Hawaiian Sun Investments, Inc." on Justia Law

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In the second appeal regarding this Landlord-Tenant dispute involving the eviction of Tenant from Landlord’s condominium, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) failed adequately to address the district court’s denial of what Tenant called his “implicit counterclaim” for retaliatory eviction. In 2008, the district court issued a writ of possession to Landlord, which was executed against Tenant. The ICA vacated the district court’s ruling in part and remanded. The ICA affirmed the district court’s decision on remand except as to an award of attorney fees to Landlord. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the ICA and the district court, holding that Tenant properly raised a counterclaim of retaliatory eviction in his original answer, even though it was not denominated as such. Because the ICA on the second appeal did not determine as much, this case must be remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Tenant to proceed on the counterclaim in his original answer and to allow Landlord to assert any relevant defenses. View "Ryan v. Herzog" on Justia Law

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In the second appeal regarding this Landlord-Tenant dispute involving the eviction of Tenant from Landlord’s condominium, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) failed adequately to address the district court’s denial of what Tenant called his “implicit counterclaim” for retaliatory eviction. In 2008, the district court issued a writ of possession to Landlord, which was executed against Tenant. The ICA vacated the district court’s ruling in part and remanded. The ICA affirmed the district court’s decision on remand except as to an award of attorney fees to Landlord. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the ICA and the district court, holding that Tenant properly raised a counterclaim of retaliatory eviction in his original answer, even though it was not denominated as such. Because the ICA on the second appeal did not determine as much, this case must be remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Tenant to proceed on the counterclaim in his original answer and to allow Landlord to assert any relevant defenses. View "Ryan v. Herzog" on Justia Law

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Harrison, an owner of two commercial apartments within a mixed-use development project managed by Casa, sued, alleging she was improperly assessed for expenses that should have been charged only to residential apartment owners, related to elevators, lanai railings, drains, cable television, and pest control. The circuit court granted summary judgment in Casa’s favor, concluding that the disputed assessments were not for limited common elements exclusive to the residential apartments, but were for common elements, and were, therefore, expenses for which Harrison must pay her pro rata share. The circuit court further concluded Harrison was estopped from disputing the expenses because she knew or should have known that Casa had been assessing her for the disputed items for quite some time. The Supreme Court of Hawaii vacated and remanded. Citing the Restated Declaration of Horizontal Property Regime and Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 514A and the declaration of condominium ownership, the court held that the elevators and lanai railings are limited common elements and that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the drains and cable television wires are common elements. Harrison is not responsible for expenses of limited common elements. The court rejected the claim of estoppel. View "Harrison v. Casa De Emdeko, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this appeal from the denial of Petitioner’s motion for return of her personal possessions allegedly taken during the execution of a writ of ejectment after the foreclosure sale of a house in which she resided, the Supreme Court held (1) although the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA) does not require a residential lease to be in writing, Petitioner was not entitled to PTFA protections because she did not qualify as a bona fide tenant under the PTFA; (2) generally, the landlord-tenant code applies to residential leases entered into before a lis pendens, but Petitioner was not a residential tenant; (3) Petitioner was afforded her due process rights to notice and an opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner; but (4) the circuit court erred in failing to grant Petitioner’s motion for return of possessions where the possessions included items of no financial value to the purchase of the property at foreclosure but with great sentimental value to Petitioner. View "Peak Capital Group, LLC v. Perez" on Justia Law

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Gene Wong was employed by Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (HAL) as a pilot until he retired. Upon retiring, Wong became eligible to receive medical insurance paid for by HAL. Wong claimed that, as a result of misinformation he received from the employee benefits director, he did not complete the necessary forms to enroll in Medicare Part B coverage for almost a decade. Wong filed suit against HAL, alleging negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair or deceptive practice (UDAP). The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of HAL, concluding that (1) Wong’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims were preempted by the Railroad Labor Act (RLA) because any duty HAL owed would be derived from HAL’s obligations to retired pilots under a collective bargaining agreement between HAL and the Airline Pilots Association, and (2) the UDAP claim failed because the deceptive act did not occur in the conduct of any trade or commerce. The Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the record in this case did not support federal preemption of Wong’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims because these claims were not dependent on the Pilots Agreement; and (2) summary judgment was correctly granted on Wong’s UDAP claim. View "Wong v. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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Gene Wong was employed by Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (HAL) as a pilot until he retired. Upon retiring, Wong became eligible to receive medical insurance paid for by HAL. Wong claimed that, as a result of misinformation he received from the employee benefits director, he did not complete the necessary forms to enroll in Medicare Part B coverage for almost a decade. Wong filed suit against HAL, alleging negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair or deceptive practice (UDAP). The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of HAL, concluding that (1) Wong’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims were preempted by the Railroad Labor Act (RLA) because any duty HAL owed would be derived from HAL’s obligations to retired pilots under a collective bargaining agreement between HAL and the Airline Pilots Association, and (2) the UDAP claim failed because the deceptive act did not occur in the conduct of any trade or commerce. The Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the record in this case did not support federal preemption of Wong’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims because these claims were not dependent on the Pilots Agreement; and (2) summary judgment was correctly granted on Wong’s UDAP claim. View "Wong v. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case involved a dispute between Landlord and Tenant. Landlord served a forty-five-day eviction notice on Tenant stating that the lease would be terminated, but Tenant refused to leave the premises. Tenant filed a complaint alleging claims for, inter alia retaliatory eviction, and fraudulent misrepresentation. Landlord filed a motion for leave to file a summary possession counterclaim. The district court granted the motion. After a trial, the district court entered a judgment for possession and writ of possession in favor of Landlord. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and vacated the district court’s judgment for possession and writ of possession, holding (1) the ICA erred in affirming the district court’s judgment for possession and writ of possession based on the forty-five-day notice to vacate because when Landlord issued to Tenant the forty-five-day notice to vacate, Haw. Rev. Stat. 521-74(a) rendered the notice ineffective; (2) there were no grounds to remove Tenant based on a failure to pay rent; and (3) the ICA erred in determining that the district court did not prevent Tenant from fully presenting evidence for the court’s consideration on the issue of summary possession. View "Cedillos v. Masumoto" on Justia Law