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Ruling overturned on Kauai dam break claims

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:40 a.m. HST, Nov 06, 2013

LIHUE >> Kilauea Irrigation Company is responsible for defending the state against lawsuits brought in the aftermath of a deadly 2006 Kauai dam break, a state appeals court has found.

The state Intermediate Court of Appeals ruling says Kilauea Irrigation has a responsibility to defend claims against the state regarding care and maintenance of the Ka Loko dam and spillway prior to the disaster, the Garden Island reported Tuesday.

Seven people were killed after the dam collapsed and hundreds of gallons of water rushed downhill. Various lawsuits were filed after the break. Some are still pending. Then-primary landowner James Pflueger pleaded no contest to reckless endangering in the criminal case.

The ruling sends the Kilauea case back to Circuit Court. The company didn't file a challenge to the state's appeal.

A permit at the time allowed Kilauea Irrigation to construct, operate, repair and maintain a water transportation system within the Ka Loko ditch right-of-way and the Puu Ka Ele stream. The permit required "due care" regarding public safety and to indemnify the state from claims of damage, injury or death arising from failure to maintain the permit.

A lower court judge had granted a state motion arguing Kilauea Irrigation was obligated to defend the state against allegations of premises or property ownership. But the judge ruled Kilauea Irrigation was not obligated to defend claims that the state was aware the dam was in questionable condition, that the state did not require repair or replacement and that the state did not intervene when the public utility failed to meet inspection obligations.

Deputy State Attorney General Reese Nakamura said the appeals court ruled that under Hawaii law, a court can't both grant in part and deny in part one motion regarding claims in the case.

"The ruling states that Kilauea Irrigation Company has to defend on all claims," Nakamura said.

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HanabataDays wrote:
"Hundreds of gallons of water rushed downhill", huh? Good thing it wasn't maybe a thousand gallons, things might have been worse.
on November 6,2013 | 06:12AM
KKawa wrote:
Circuit Court ruled that Kilauea Irrigation Company was NOT obligated to defend claims against the State for its failure to regularly inspect the damn. That it was up to the State to defend those claims. The State disagrees with the Circuit Court ruling, and appeals. Yet, Kilauea Irrigation does not even file a brief detailing why the Circuit Court decision was solid and should stand? I have never heard of such a thing. Who represented Kilauea Irrigation in the lawsuit?
on November 6,2013 | 06:57AM
serious wrote:
KKawa, correct, one wonders who's in charge. We need adult supervision--the dam stops here!!!!
on November 6,2013 | 10:45AM
mcc wrote:
And Jimmy Pfllueger bought his way out of jail.
on November 6,2013 | 08:57AM
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