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Kauai beekeeper ordered to pay bills for neighbor who was stung

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LIHUE >> A beekeeper was ordered Monday to pay a hospital bill for his neighbor after the man, who is allergic to bees, was stung.

Luis Soltren was stung at his home in June 2014, The Garden Island reported. He described his allergy as severe and said there is little difference to him between a bee’s stinger and a bullet.

The beekeeping neighbor, Kauai police officer Jesse Castro, said it wasn’t one of his honey bees that stung Soltren. He has also testified that he didn’t learn Soltren was allergic until after the sting — a timeline Soltren disputes.

Castro said he then made plans to remove the bees. Soltren had complained to the county that the hives weren’t permitted in the residential neighborhood.

Castro was ordered to pay Soltren’s out-of-pocket medical expenses of $224. Judge Sara Silverman also awarded Sultran court costs and fees as well as $2,457 for a fence constructed between the neighboring properties.

The Kauai neighbors’ story went national as people debated whether a beekeeper could be held accountable for a bee sting — a question Silverman touched on in the 5th Circuit Court House before announcing her ruling.

“There’s some risk there,” she said. “They can’t be totally controlled.”

Patrick Childs, Castro’s attorney, argued that the man’s bees weren’t swarming or attacking when Soltren was stung.

The attorney asked witness and beekeeper James “Jimmy” Torio if there is any way to prove which bee stung Soltren.

“There is no way, you can’t,” Torio replied.

The attorney also said the region in which the neighbors lived is well-known for its beekeepers.

“I’d suggest everyone on this island knows that the Homesteads are a very fertile area for bees,” he said.

After the ruling, Soltren, who represented himself, told The Garden Island that it was worth fumbling through the courtroom protocol.

“This is about doing what’s right,” he said. “That’s why I’m happy.”

Although disappointed by the ruling, Childs said it won’t set a precedent for beekeepers because it is a small claims suit.

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