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Wintermantel-Baptista v. Hanohano

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai‘i

October 11, 2013

Bernice Lynn WINTERMANTEL-BAPTISTA, a.k.a. Bernice Lyn Wintermantel-Baptista, individually and as Guardian ad litem for Minor children, Naia A. born on February 6, 1994 and Anela A. born on March 23, 1995, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Jean HANOHANO, Robert Hanohano, [Barbara Larson], Adam Lipka, Thomas Adriance and The City and County of Honolulu, a municipal corporation, Defendants-Appellees.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Unpublished disposition." in the Pacific Reporter. See HI R RAP RULE 35

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (Civil No. 08-1-0244-01).

Walter R. Schoettle, on the briefs, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Curtis E. Sherwood, Deputy Corporation Counsel, City and County of Honolulu, on the briefs, for Defendants-Appellees, City and County of Honolulu, Adam Lipka, and Thomas Adriance.

NAKAMURA, Chief Judge, FUJISE and LEONARD, JJ.

SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER

Plaintiff-Appellant Bernice Lynn Wintermantel-Baptista (Plaintiff or Wintermantel-Baptista) appeals from an August 30, 2010 Final Judgment entered by the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (Circuit Court),[1] in favor of Defendants-Appellees Adam Lipka (Lipka), Thomas Adriance (Adriance), and City and County of Honolulu (City, collectively City Defendants), as well as Defendants Jean Hanohano and Robert Hanohano,[2]

Wintermantel-Baptista raises three points of error on appeal, arguing that the Circuit Court erred when it: (1) refused to consider the opposition memoranda and supporting documents filed by Plaintiff in response to the City Defendants' motion for summary judgment; (2) granted summary judgment in favor of the City Defendants; and (3) denied Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the order granting summary judgment.

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 Wintermantel-Baptista's points of error as follows:

(1) It is undisputed that Plaintiff's memorandum in opposition to the City Defendants' September 18, 2009 motion for summary judgment was untimely filed, without the filing of a motion for an extension of time. See Haw. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Haw. R. Cir. Ct. 7(b). Although, at the October 9, 2009 hearing on the City Defendants' motion, the Circuit Court indicated that it would not consider the Plaintiff's late-filed memorandum, the Circuit Court clearly and specifically examined whether the moving party had met its burden of demonstrating that there was no genuine issue of material fact in dispute and that the City Defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on each of Plaintiff's claims. See Arakaki v. SCD-Olanani Corp., 110 Hawai‘i 1, 6, 129 P.3d 504, 509 (2006) (quoting Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677, 680-81 § 2d Cir.2001)). Under the circumstances of this case, we cannot conclude that the Circuit Court abused its discretion in declining to consider Plaintiff's late-filed memorandum.

(2) Even assuming, arguendo, that the Circuit Court erred when it declined to consider Plaintiff's memorandum in opposition to the City Defendants' September 18, 2009 motion for summary judgment, we conclude that summary judgment was properly granted in favor of the City Defendants and against Plaintiff. As acknowledged by Plaintiff, many of the factual allegations in this case were previously litigated in a related federal court matter. In other words, many of Plaintiff's state court claims have the same factual issues present as the previously adjudicated federal claims; thus, Plaintiff's state court claims are potentially subject to collateral estoppel. " Collateral estoppel is an aspect of res judicata which precludes the relitigation of a fact or issue which was previously determined in a prior suit on a different claim between the same parties or their privies." Omerod v. Heirs of Kaheananui, 116 Hawai‘i 239, 263, 172 P.3d 983, 1007 (2007). The doctrine of collateral estoppel prevents relitigation if the following four factors are met:

(1) the issue decided in the prior adjudication is identical to the one presented in the action in question; (2) there is a final judgment on the merits; (3) the issue decided in the prior adjudication was essential to the final judgment; and (4) the party against whom collateral estoppel is asserted was a party or in privity with a party to the prior adjudication[.]

Id. at 264, 172 P.3d at 1008. The Hawai‘i Supreme Court has held that state courts, where appropriate under the doctrine of collateral estoppel, are " required to give preclusive effect" to Federal District Court findings. See Sussel v. Civil Serv. Coram'n of City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 74 Haw. 599, 612, 851 P.2d 311, 318 (1993). Therefore, collateral estoppel may apply to U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai‘i Judge Michael Seabright's (U.S. District Court's) findings and the previously adjudicated issues that underlie Plaintiff's claims herein.

Plaintiff contends that the City Defendants violated Article I, Section 7 [3] of the Hawai‘i Constitution when they allegedly impounded her car and placed her children in foster care. The U.S. District Court, however, made key findings on these allegations, including that: (1) Plaintiff's car was seized by Aloha Auction Collateral Recovery acting on behalf of the Bank of Hawai‘i (because her car payments were in arrears) and not the City Defendants; and (2) neither Adriance nor Lipka engaged in activity resulting in the placement of Plaintiff's children in foster care, Lipka ...


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