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Williams v. Kanemaru

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

August 20, 2013

DANA WILLIAMS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CHRISTINE KANEMARU, DENISE BLAS-PHILLIPS, Defendants-Appellees, and JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-10; DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-10; DOE CORPORATIONS 1-10; and OTHER DOE ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants

NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAII REPORTS OR THE PACIFIC REPORTER

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT (CIVIL NO. 10-1-0236)

On the briefs:

Shawn A. Luiz for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Patrick H. Jones and Leighton N. Hara (Marr Jones & Wang) for Defendants-Appellees.

Nakamura, C.J., Reifurth and Ginoza, JJ.

SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER

Plaintiff-Appellant Dana Williams ("Williams") appeals from the April 19, 2011 Final Judgment entered in favor of Defendants-Appellees Christine Kanemaru ("Kanemaru") and Denise Bias-Phillips ("Bias-Phillips") (collectively, "Defendants") in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit ("Circuit Court").[1] Williams sought recovery against the Defendants under theories of intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") and libel/slander ("defamation").

On appeal, Williams argues that the Circuit Court erred in granting the Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint filed on February 1, 2010 or, in the alternative, for summary judgment ("Motion to Dismiss/MSJ"), filed August 24, 2010, because "there remained triable issues of material fact with which a jury could find in favor of Williams."

Upon careful review of the record and the briefs submitted by the parties, and having given due consideration to the arguments advanced and the issues raised by the parties, we resolve Williams's points of error as follows:

In ruling on the Motion to Dismiss/MSJ, the Circuit Court considered supporting documents, separate from the pleadings; thus, the Motion to Dismiss/MSJ was disposed of as a motion for summary judgment. See Haw. R. Civ. P. 12(b). Therefore, it is Williams's task to show that the Circuit Court erred in entering summary judgment in Defendants' favor.

A. Defamation

Williams's Complaint, as supported by her declaration attached to her memorandum in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss/MSJ, states that Defendants defamed her by (1) accusing her of being a racist and (2) stating that Williams (a) bragged about being suspended, (b) retaliated against her accuser, and (c) brought down morale in the operating room.[2] According to Williams, the defamation occurred during three in-office meetings that Williams had with the Defendants over a four-month period concerning an investigation conducted by the Defendants "related to concerns about the climate in the Operating Room and allegations that I contributed to creating the negative climate due to my derogatory comments and treatment of others." The first meeting was attended by Williams and the Defendants, while the second meeting included only Williams and Bias-Phillips. The third meeting included Williams, the Defendants, and another employee, Jody, who attended in response to Williams's request for a witness, although Jody was not the witness that Williams had requested.

To establish a claim for defamation, a plaintiff must ...


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