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Bolla v. University of Hawai'i

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai‘i

January 8, 2014

James BOLLA and Dallas M. Bolla, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI‘ I, Defendant-Appellee, and John Does 1 Though 10, Jane Does 1 through 10, Doe Corporations 1 through 10, and Doe Unincorporated Associations, Including Partnerships 1 through 10, Defendants.

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This decision has been designated as "Unpublished disposition."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. 11-1-0050-01 PWB).

R. Steven Geshell, on the briefs, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Kenneth S. Robbins, John-Anderson L. Meyer, Sergio Rufo, (Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing), on the briefs, for Defendant-Appellee.

NAKAMURA, C.J., FOLEY and FUJISE, JJ.

SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER

Plaintiffs-Appellants James Bolla and Dallas M. Bolla (collectively, Bolla) appeal from the January 18, 2013 Judgment and the March 7, 2013 post-judgment " Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Reinstate Original Complaint, Filed January 10, 2013" entered in the Circuit Court of First Circuit [1] (circuit court) in favor of Defendant-Appellee University of Hawai‘i (University).

Bolla contends the circuit court committed reversible error by:

(1) granting summary judgment for University on Bolla's claims under the Hawai‘i Whistleblower Protection Act (HWPA), Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), §§ 378-61 through 378-69 (1993);

(2) entering the March 7, 2013 " Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Reinstate Original Complaint, Filed January 10, 2013," which denied Bolla's January 10, 2013 Motion to Reinstate the Original Complaint and awarded attorneys' fees and costs to the University; and

(3) granting summary judgment on alleged torts of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).

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, as well as the relevant statutory and case law, we conclude that Bolla's appeal is without merit.

(1) The circuit court did not err in holding that the federal courts' determination that the University's non-pretextual, nondiscriminatory reasons for terminating James Bolla's employment in the context of granting summary judgment in favor of the University resolved essential, identical issues to those in the instant case collaterally estopping Bolla from relitigating these issues under their HWPA claim against the University. Keahole Defense Coal., Inc. v. Bd. of Land & Natural Res., 110 Hawai‘i, 419, 429, 134 P.3d 585, 595 (2006).[2]

(2) The circuit court did not abuse its discretion by denying Bolla's motion to reinstate their original complaint. See Gonsalves v. Nissan Motor Corp. in Hawai‘i, Ltd., 100 Hawai‘i 149, 158, 58 P.3d 1196, 1205 (2002) (holding that a Hawai‘i court has broad discretion to deny leave to amend a complaint pursuant to Hawai‘i Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 15).

The circuit court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys' fees and costs to the University in connection with Bolla's motion to reinstate their original complaint. " Sanctions in the form of attorneys' fees and costs may be imposed by the trial court in accordance with [HRS] §§ 603-21.9(1) and (6) [1993]." Enos v. P. Transfer & Warehouse, Inc., 79 Hawai‘i 452, 458, 903 P.2d 1273, 1279 (1995).

(3) Bolla's points of error in regards to their false-light invasion of privacy and IIED claims both allege work-related injuries that fall under Hawai‘i's Workers' Compensation ...


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