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Cox v. Cox

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai'i

January 29, 2015

BRUCE EDWARD COX, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CARLYN DAVIDSON COX, Defendant-Appellee

Editorial Note:

This decision is published in table format in the Pacific and Hawai'i reporter.

APPEAL FROM THE FAMILY COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT. (FC-DIVORCE NO. 06-1-0096).

On the briefs: R. Steven Geshell, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

By: Nakamura, Chief Judge, Leonard and Reifurth, JJ.

SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER

Plaintiff-Appellant Bruce Edward Cox (Bruce) appeals from the Order re: Plaintiff's Second Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs Pursuant to Hawaii Family Court Rule (HFCR) Rule 68 filed on July 15, 2011, entered on August 6, 2012 (Order re Fees) by the Family Court of the First Circuit (Family Court).[1]

Bruce contends tat the Family Court erred when it refused to award him the attorney's fees and the costs he incurred at the appellate level.

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 Bruce's points of error as follows:

HFCR Rule 68 provides:

HFCR Rule 68 provides:

At any time more than 20 days before any contested hearing held pursuant to HRS sections 571-11 to 14 (excluding law violations, criminal matters, and child protection matters) is scheduled to begin, any party may serve upon the adverse party an offer to allow a judgment to be entered to the effect specified in the offer. Such offer may be made as to all or some of the issues, such as custody and visitation. Such offer shall not be filed with the court, unless it is accepted. If within 10 days after service of the offer the adverse party serves written notice that the offer is accepted, any party may then file the offer and notice of acceptance together with proof of service thereof and thereupon the court shall treat those issues as uncontested. An offer not accepted shall be deemed withdrawn and evidence thereof is not admissible, except in a proceeding to determine costs and attorney's fees. If the judgment in its entirety finally obtained by the offeree is patently not more favorable than the offer, the offeree must pay the costs, including reasonable attorney's fees incurred after the making of the offer, unless the court shall specifically determine that such would be inequitable in accordance with the provisions of HRS section 580-47 or other applicable statutes, as amended.

( Emphasis added.)

In this case, the Family Court concluded that, pursuant to HFCR Rule 68, Bruce was entitled to an award of the reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred by Bruce after his HFCR Rule 68 offer to Defendant-Appellee Carlyn R. Davidson, fka Carlyn Davidson Cox (Carlyn), to the extent that those reasonable fees and costs were incurred at the trial level, but not at the appellate level. In the Order re Fees, the Family Court explained its denial of Bruce's appellate level fees and costs as follows:

The trial court will not award appellate costs to [Bruce], No Rule 68 offer was presented to [the] Family Court regarding the appeal and even if [Bruce] contends the appellate costs are automatically included in the Rule 69 [sic] offer, this Court expressly declines to do so. [Bruce] may consider applying to the appellate court for the award of his appellate fees and costs.

In its subsequent Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, entered on November 2, 2012, the Family Court found that " [t]he Family Court declined to award appellate costs to [Bruce]" and concluded, in relevant part, that " HFCR 68 does not state that the prevailing party in ...


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