ERIC J. MINTON and RICHARD M. STANLEY, Plaintiffs/Appellees/Cross-Appellants,
SIDNEY A. QUINTAL, JOHN C. FUHRMANN, and CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU, Defendants/Appellants/Cross-Appellees, and JOHN DOES 1-10 and DOE ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT. CIVIL NO.
briefs: Matthew S.K. Pyun, Jr., John P. Moran, Nicolette
Winter, (with them on the reply brief) Deputies Corporation
Counsel City and County of Honolulu, for
S. Lotsof, for Plaintiffs/Appellees/Cross-Appellants.
PRESIDING J., FUJISE AND REIFURTH, JJ.
Sidney A. Quintal, John C. Fuhrmann, and the City and County
of Honolulu (collectively, C& C) appeal and
Plaintiffs/Appellees/Cross-Appellants Eric J. Minton (Minton)
and Richard M. Stanley (Stanley) cross-appeal from the "
Final Judgment and Order Determining, Damages" entered
on December 23, 2014 in the Circuit Court of the First
Circuit (circuit court).
appeal, C& C contends the circuit court erred in calculating
the amount of damages it awarded, and challenges the circuit
court's (1) use of the " Worst Case" scenario
to measure Minton and Stanley's damages; (2) reliance on
Minton and Stanley's supplementary declarations; and (3)
the denial of C& C's March 12, 2014 " Motion to
Conduct Trial, Conduct Further Discovery, and Receive Further
Evidence on Issue of Damages" (Motion to Conduct Further
Discovery and Trial).
cross-appeal, Minton and Stanley contend, the circuit court
erred in (1) " determining the scope of the remand from
the [Hawai'i] Supreme Court" ; (2) " denying
foreseeable non-pecuniary damages" ; and (3) striking
parts of the declarations by Stanley and Minton.
case comes before us after remand from the Hawai'i
Supreme Court to the circuit court " for a determination
of the amount of damages to be awarded against [C& C]."
Minton v. Quintal, 131 Hawai'i 167, 192, 317
P.3d 1, 26 (2013). The supreme court concluded that
Minton and Stanley " established the elements of their
claim of tortious interference with prospective business
advantage, including the existence of damages."
March 12, 2014, following the supreme court's decision,
C& C filed a Motion to Conduct Further Discovery and Trial.
The circuit court held a hearing on this motion on April 4,
2014. On April 24, 2013, the circuit court issued its "
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part [C& C's Motion
to Conduct Further Discovery and Trial] Filed March 12,
2, 2014, C& C filed a memorandum summarizing the testimony
presented to the trial court during the initial trial in
2010. On May 5, 2014, C& C filed supplemental exhibits, which
included reports from economist Thomas A. Loudat, PhD (Dr.
Loudat) on the updated estimates of the projected earnings of
Minton and Stanley. On May 6, 2014, Minton and Stanley
submitted their own memorandum summarizing the testimony from
the 2010 trial.
23, 2014, Minton and Stanley each submitted "
supplementary declarations" to the circuit court
(Supplemental Declarations). On June 30, 2014, C& O submitted
objections to the Supplemental Declarations. The circuit
court held a hearing on the admission of the Supplemental
Declarations on July 3, 2014, at which it struck portions of
both Minton and Stanley's Supplemental Declarations.
7 and 8, 2014, the circuit court conducted an evidentiary
hearing receiving testimony from Stanley, Minton, and Dr.
October 15, 2014, the circuit court entered its Findings of
Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order Determining Damages (2014
FOFs/COLs). The circuit court awarded $556,156 to Minton and
$194,483 to Stanley. The circuit court denied non-economic
damages to Minton and Stanley, citing the limited scope of
the supreme court's, remand.
submitted their notice of appeal on January 16, 2015. Minton
and Stanley submitted their notice of cross-appeal on January
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Findings of Fact (FOFs) and Conclusions of Law
[An appellate] court reviews the trial court's FOFs under
the clearly erroneous standard. Ueoka v. Szymanski,
107 Hawai'i 386, 393, 114 P.3d 892, 899 (2005) (citations
An FOF is clearly erroneous when, despite evidence to support
the finding, the appellate court is left with the definite
and firm conviction in reviewing the entire evidence that a
mistake has been committed. An FOF is also clearly erroneous
when the record lacks substantial evidence to support the
finding. We have defined substantial evidence as credible
evidence which is of sufficient quality and probative value
to enable a person of reasonable caution to support a
Bremer v. Weeks, 104 Hawai'i 43, 51, 85 P.3d
150, 158 (2004) (quoting Beneficial Hawai'i, Inc. v.
Kida, 96 Hawai'i 289, 305, 30 P.3d 895, 911 (2001)).
Bhakta v. Cty. of Maui, 109 Hawai'i 198, 208,
124 P.3d 943, 953 (2005) (brackets in original omitted).
We review the trial court's conclusions of law de novo
under the right/wrong standard. Under this standard, we
examine the facts and answer the question without being
required to give any weight to the trial court's answer
to it. Thus, a conclusion of law is not binding upon the
appellate court and is freely reviewable for its correctness.
Minton, 131 Hawai'i at 184, 317 P.3d at 18
(quoting Brown v. Thompson, 91 Hawai'i 1, 8, 979
P.2d 586, 593 (1999)). " [A] COL that presents mixed
questions of fact and law is reviewed under the clearly
erroneous standard because the court's conclusions are
dependent upon the facts and circumstances of each individual
case." Chun v. Bd. of Trs. of Emps.' Ret. Sys.
of State of Hawai'i, 106 Hawai'i 416, 430, 106
P.3d 339, 353 (2005) (internal quotation marks omitted)
(quoting Allstate Ins. Co. v. Ponce, 105 Hawai'i
445, 453, 99 P.3d 96, 104 (2004)).
Admissibility of Evidence
As a general rule, [an appellate] court reviews evidentiary
rulings for abuse of discretion." Sierra Club v.
Dep't of Transp. of State of Hawai'i, 120
Hawai'i 181, 197, 202 P.3d 1226, 1242 (2009) (citing
Kealoha v. Cty. of Hawai'i, 74 Haw. 308, 319, 844
P.2d 670, 676 (1993)). " However, when there can only be
one correct answer to the admissibility question, or when
reviewing questions of relevance under [Hawaii Rules of
Evidence (HRE) Rules 401 (1993) and 402 (1993)], [an
appellate] court applies the right/wrong standard of
review." Sierra Club, 120 Hawai'i at 197,
202 P.3d at 1242 (citing Karnaka v. Goodsill Anderson
Quinn & Stifel, 117 Hawai'i 92, 104, 176 P.3d 91,
Motion to Conduct Further Discovery and Trial
We review a trial court's ruling limiting the scope of
discovery under the abuse of discretion standard."
Fisher v. Grove Farm Co., 123 Hawai'i 82, 94,
230 P.3d 382, 394 (App. 2009) (reviewing a motion to compel
discovery) (citing State v. Fukusaku, 85 Hawai'i
462, 477-78, 946 P.2d 32, 47-48 (1997)). An abuse of
discretion occurs if the trial court has " clearly
exceeded the bounds of reason or disregarded rules or
principles of law or practice to the substantial detriment of
a party litigant." Amfac, Inc. v. Waikiki
Beachcomber Inv. Co., 74 Haw. 85, 114, 839 P.2d 10, 26
Motion to Conduct Further Discovery and Trial
challenges the circuit court's denial of C& C's
Motion to Conduct Further Discovery and Trial. C& C argues
that in denying the motion, " the circuit court
prevented [C& C] from rebutting the self-serving testimony of
[Minton and Stanley]...."
remand, the circuit court allowed C& C to conduct further
discovery on issues that had arisen since the 2010
trial. C& C was given the opportunity to
cross-examine Minton, Stanley, and Dr. Loudat at the
evidentiary hearing. C& C does not cite any rule or other
authority that would require the circuit court to allow
additional discovery upon remand from an appellate court on
the issue of damages. C& C has failed to demonstrate that the
circuit court clearly exceeded the bounds of reason or
disregarded rules or principles of law to its substantial
detriment. See Amfac, 74 Haw. at 114, 839 P.2d at
" Worst Case" Scenario
argues that the circuit court erred in adopting the "
Worst Case (actual) earnings" analysis provided by Dr.
Loudat for Minton and Stanley's damages awards.