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Hawaii Supreme Court rules on Ala Moana wrongful death case

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:00 p.m. HST, Jul 19, 2013



HONOLULU >> Ala Moana Center had a duty to care for a woman who died after getting stuck in an exhaust duct, even though she was trespassing on the roof, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled.

But the opinion filed Thursday also affirms parts of a lower court’s ruling in favor of Ala Moana that the mall couldn’t be liable for not anticipating she would sneak onto the roof and end up in the vent. The case now goes back to Circuit Court.

The family of Jasmine Rose Anne Fry, 22, filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming Ala Moana was negligent and failed to care for her and her unborn baby. Fry was six- to eight-weeks pregnant when she somehow accessed the roof and squeezed into the duct above the food court and got trapped in the stove hood in 2005. She died of hyperthermia after rescuers removed her from the duct. The medical examiner said that based on information on the circumstances leading to her death, she had a psychotic episode. 

The high court said it was proper to grant summary judgment in favor of Ala Moana but that the mall “had a duty to exercise reasonable care to control those factors to prevent them for doing harm to Fry, even if she was a trespasser.” 

A maintenance worker found Fry on the roof, barefoot and dressed in shorts and a tank top. She had grease smeared on her feet, hands, hair and face and told the worker she was a contractor hired to clean grease from an exhaust fan.

He thought it was odd and she seemed to be acting erratically, jumping on the duct and saying a there was a baby inside, according to the court’s opinion. Her jumping broke a hole in the metal and she squeezed her way in. The worker called security.

Employees eventually turned off the stoves. While trapped, she told a security officer she was on the roof because “she wanted to be free.” 

No one from Ala Moana called emergency services until about 20 minutes later, according to the ruling. A first call was to police to say that a woman broke into the duct and was crawling through without authorization. Later, another call asked for help getting her out of the duct. She was pronounced dead at a hospital. 

General Growth Properties, Inc., which owns and manages Ala Moana Center, declined to comment on the ruling. 






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allie wrote:
What on earth was she doing on the roof? Why would Ala Moana be to ,blame for her illegal trespassing?
on July 19,2013 | 11:08AM
palani wrote:
An insane ruling to an insane incident. One cancels out the other, I suppose. If the maintenance worker had not spotted her, Ala Moana would have been held without fault.
on July 19,2013 | 12:10PM
copperwire9 wrote:
1) She had a psychotic episode (read the article). 2) Because they waited 20 minutes to call for emergency services' help, despite finding a psychotic woman, obviously in great distress, stuck in a heat duct (read the article).
on July 19,2013 | 01:15PM
sixthsense wrote:
Put yourself in the maintenance worker's place. What would you have done? A nut in distress? Call the cops! Who knew she was pregnant and in need of an ambulance? Only you, it seems!
on July 19,2013 | 02:23PM
dn99 wrote:
Welcome to the liberal state of Hawaii, where you are held liable for the well being of people committing crime on your property.
on July 19,2013 | 11:15AM
eoe wrote:
Yes, because she had a psychotic break she deserved to be slowly cooked to death.
on July 19,2013 | 11:43AM
SteveToo wrote:
One less problem for the human race.
on July 19,2013 | 03:53PM
Larry01 wrote:
What a shameful comment. Others would probably feel the same about you, I suppose, so never mind.
on July 19,2013 | 05:57PM
Slow wrote:
Evryone is wuff and tuff behind their computer. Wuff wuff wuff!
on July 20,2013 | 07:25AM
Pocho wrote:
somethings wrong with Hawaii's Court system. It's not like the roof being a common thoroughfare.
on July 19,2013 | 12:02PM
eoe wrote:
Also, if you don't like the Socialist Republic of Hawaii you are certainly free to go someplace else. We are a republic after all. Plenty of states like Texas and Florida where you can act out your violent, racist, misogynistic worldview with impunity. Probably your solution here would be for the maintenance man to stand his ground and shoot this potentially dangerous 22 year old woman in the head - she was breaking the law and acting erratically after all.
on July 19,2013 | 12:03PM
redneckMT wrote:
He did nothing and the result was the same.
on July 19,2013 | 12:42PM
allie wrote:
yikes!
on July 19,2013 | 01:12PM
likewise wrote:
How about the family's "duty to care" for the woman so she doesn't trespass and get stuck in vents. Some nerve.
on July 19,2013 | 11:18AM
kewalosurfer wrote:
Exactly.
on July 19,2013 | 03:02PM
aomohoa wrote:
They care about the money they will get out of this!
on July 19,2013 | 06:58PM
aomohoa wrote:
How about being taking responsibility for themselves.
on July 19,2013 | 03:37PM
peepee wrote:
Unfortunately the laws of our state and country are very very poor at enabling families to intervene and care for those that are mentally ill. If you want to hear less about stories like this, about psychotic people who harm others, and want to see less homeless people on the street who are mentally ill, support laws that allow families to intervene and force hospitalization and / or medication for the benefit of those whose judgment is severely compromised because of mental illness. Medication can restore many of these people to a near-normal condition. Mental illness can happen to anyone. It's an agonizing problem for family members to be unable to help their loved ones.
on July 19,2013 | 04:49PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
This is outrageous! So if you have a burglar stuck in your home's air duct, you will be found liable for this miscreant's safety. Our judicial system is definitely broken. Where does responsibility fall for the criminal for his or her actions that result in his or her injury or death. If a law enforcement officer injures a criminal due to his failure to comply to orders do we allow the officer to be criminally prosecuted for not taking the criminal's well being into account?
on July 19,2013 | 11:38AM
eoe wrote:
Psychotic break, not criminal. And yes, if you came home one day found someone stuck in your vent, and then you walked by them, clicked on the TV, cracked open a beer and 20 minutes later got around to calling the cops I would hope you are found liable for something, the very least being a horrible human being with no empathy.
on July 19,2013 | 11:54AM
redneckMT wrote:
You're kidding, right?
on July 19,2013 | 12:43PM
false wrote:
That sounds like a pretty reasonable course of action considering the person was trespassing on my property.
on July 19,2013 | 12:50PM
false wrote:
In fact, make it two beers.
on July 19,2013 | 01:14PM
sixthsense wrote:
Lol! life can be a circus!
on July 19,2013 | 02:27PM
beachbum11 wrote:
I will drink to that
on July 19,2013 | 04:21PM
KommonSense wrote:
Tell me that was a joke.
on July 19,2013 | 12:54PM
dn99 wrote:
I would put two bullets in them, one in the torso and one in their head first.
on July 20,2013 | 05:26PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
I can already see the family seeing an attorney to try and exploit this whole thing to their financial advantage. I hope that they do not succeed.
on July 19,2013 | 11:43AM
bobbob wrote:
Good luck with that. The family retained the services of Michael green
on July 19,2013 | 11:47AM
aomohoa wrote:
Lawyers like Micheal Green is why lawyers have a bad reputation. He represents losers. There I said it!
on July 19,2013 | 03:39PM
t_faman wrote:
It's called the Deep Pocket Law. The family see a business and $$$, believe all they need to do is find Ala Mo partly responsible and they may be able to collect. Or they could be looking for an out-of-court settlement.
on July 19,2013 | 01:43PM
sixthsense wrote:
Ditto!
on July 19,2013 | 02:27PM
samsdad wrote:
Michael Green = ambulance chaser at its best!
on July 19,2013 | 04:50PM
aomohoa wrote:
There was another case where a drunk guy cut the lock on a gate and road his motorcycle, when he was drunk, on private property. He crashed his bike and became a paraplegic. He sued the owner of the property for his medical bills for the rest of his life. Our legal system is full of slimy lawyers that will do anything for a buck .
on July 19,2013 | 07:03PM
hanoz808 wrote:
this is just ridiculous...... how can they be responsible for crazy people
on July 19,2013 | 11:48AM
eoe wrote:
By picking up the phone to EMS one minute after the event instead of 20, and maybe turning off the stove? Seems like just basic human response to some of us.
on July 19,2013 | 11:55AM
redneckMT wrote:
Or calling 9-1-1 immediately and turning up the stove.
on July 19,2013 | 12:44PM
copperwire9 wrote:
That's a hideous comment.
on July 19,2013 | 01:17PM
rtsuk wrote:
Where was her family before this incident? They should have helped her then.To exploit this tragedy for their own selfish gains... what kind of people are these? Shame on you!!!
on July 19,2013 | 12:50PM
Mei mei wrote:
AGREED!
on July 19,2013 | 03:47PM
peepee wrote:
Unfortunately the laws of our state and country are very very poor at enabling families to intervene and care for those that are mentally ill. If you want to hear less about stories like this, about psychotic people who harm others, and want to see less homeless people on the street who are mentally ill, support laws that allow families to intervene and force hospitalization and / or medication for the benefit of those whose judgment is severely compromised because of mental illness. Medication can restore many of these people to a near-normal condition. Mental illness can happen to anyone. It's an agonizing problem for family members to be unable to help their loved ones.
on July 19,2013 | 04:47PM
808ikea wrote:
My guess is that this started out as nothing more than shake down of the insurance company for money. How the courts ruled that Ala Moana is some how remotely responsible is crazy. I suppose the manufacture of the duct should be partially responsible because they should have anticipated someone may jump up and down on the duct causing it to break open.
on July 19,2013 | 12:56PM
aomohoa wrote:
That's why they use an ambulance chaser like Michael Green. He reminds me of a really slimy used car salesman.
on July 19,2013 | 03:41PM
kanaka wrote:
What a load of kaka, as are the money grubbin family
on July 19,2013 | 02:03PM
sixthsense wrote:
How pathetic! If we all need money, just go psycho and trespass at the mall?
on July 19,2013 | 02:13PM
whs1966 wrote:
This is the kind of nonsense we wind up with in a "joint & several" liability environment. Had this "victim" done this in Montana, a strict liability state, she would not have had a case if found to be more than 50% responsible for her injury, which it sounds like she was. Above, all our system is great for attorneys.
on July 19,2013 | 03:00PM
aomohoa wrote:
They probably don't have lawyers like Green, in Montana, just waiting to take on a case like this. Easy money to rip off insurance companies.
on July 19,2013 | 03:43PM
Mei mei wrote:
A frivolous and out-landish law suit... Clearly this woman suffered severe mental problems... as written in SA "barefoot and dressed in shorts and a tank top. She had grease smeared on her feet, hands, hair and face and told the worker she was a contractor hired to clean grease from an exhaust fan" Although very sad for the loss of this woman & her baby.. she seemed to be looking for a way out ~ don't think Ala Moana Center is at fault, especially when whe wasn't even suppose to be there to begin with.. honestly squeezing into an exhaust fan? She was not in the right frame of mind.
on July 19,2013 | 03:42PM
suzyq47 wrote:
I agree to the max....that was a dumb thing to do and why blame it on Ala Moana.....it's not there fault, they didn't put her there, nor did they cause her death....WAKE UP TO REALITY FOLKS...IT'S ALL ABOUT MONEY!
on July 19,2013 | 09:16PM
SteveToo wrote:
The woman was a complete idiot and the Center should NOT be held for one penny. Stupid LIBERAL judges in Hawai`i to even think that the Center had the tinyest responsibility for her death.
on July 19,2013 | 03:52PM
SteveToo wrote:
The woman was a complete I D I O T and the center should not be held for anything.
on July 19,2013 | 03:53PM
peepee wrote:
She was sick. Mental illness can happen to anyone and it will continue to do so. There probably was a time when this woman was a good person, someone's daughter and maybe sister. People don't choose to have this illness, and when it happens it usually screws up the person's ability to sense and understand that something is wrong. If it ever happens to someone you love, I think you're perspective might change to a more compassionate one.
on July 19,2013 | 04:55PM
W15 wrote:
Calm down people. The opinion does NOT say that Ala Moana was liable. The opinion says that the lawsuit can go forward, and ultimately, the plaintiffs (the woman's family) have to prove their case that Ala Moana was negligent. I personally think they will be hard-pressed to prove that, or to convince a jury. What the opinion merely says is that Ala Moana had a duty to call for help when they discovered someone in distress on their premises. That, of course, is completely reasonable! It looks like the issue will be whether the "20 minute" delay in calling for help was reasonable or unreasonable ... and well, that will be up to a jury to decide at the trial to come.
on July 19,2013 | 05:14PM
W15 wrote:
Also, the article above did a really poor job of summarizing the court opinion.
on July 19,2013 | 05:26PM
jussayin wrote:
What a stupid ruling. Imagine if a trespasser went on our property and got hurt ... maybe intentionally to get money. It's like those people who purposely fall in the stores so that they can sue them. It's too bad that the judges are so stupid and lack common sense.
on July 19,2013 | 07:09PM
W15 wrote:
The court's opinion does not say what you are suggesting.
on July 19,2013 | 10:45PM
awahana wrote:
Move over McDonalds hot coffee in your lap, Hawaii Shopping Center Vent Girl is taking the reins of insanity!
on July 19,2013 | 08:58PM
Aquarius1 wrote:
The Hawaii Supreme Court should have applied the law of natural selection.
on July 19,2013 | 10:25PM
W15 wrote:
I really think the article is mis-reporting this opinion. People here are complaining about the court ruling, without actually understanding how it ruled. The opinion specifically says: "(1) Ala Moana owed no duty to a person not reasonably anticipated to be on the rooftop and, based on the admissible evidence, Fry could not have reasonably been anticipated to be on the rooftop; (2) even if Ala Moana should have reasonably anticipated Fry’s presence on the rooftop, it still could not be held liable because Fry’s entry into the exhaust vent was not reasonably foreseeable; therefore, any breach of its general duty as a possessor of land was not a substantial factor in causing Fry’s injuries and/or death; (3) whether or not Fry had the mental capacity to voluntarily enter the exhaust duct is irrelevant to Ala Moana’s general premises liability duty; (4) the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor is inapplicable; and (5) Plaintiffs’ other theories as to how Fry ended up on the rooftop are speculative and constitute intentional torts for which Ala Moana cannot be held vicariously liable."
on July 19,2013 | 10:40PM
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