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Kim v. Crocs, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 28, 2018

FLORA KIM, individually and as Guardian Ad Litem for W.K.; and DAVID KANG, Plaintiffs,
v.
CROCS, INC.; HILTON MANAGEMENT LLC; HILTON HAWAIIAN VILLAGE, LLC; DOE ENTITIES 1-1 O; and JOHN and/or JANE DOES 1-10, Defendants. HILTON MANAGEMENT LLC; HILTON HAWAIIAN VILLAGE LLC Third-Party Plaintiffs,
v.
OTIS ELEVATOR COMPANY, Third-Party Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT DEFENDANTS HILTON MANAGEMENT LLC AND HILTON HAWAIIAN VILLAGE LLC'S PETITION FOR DETERMINATION OF GOOD FAITH SETTLEMENT

          Kenneth J. Mansfield United States Magistrate Judge

         Defendants Hilton Management LLC and Hilton Hawaiian Village LLC (together “Hilton”) filed a Petition for Determination of Good Faith Settlement on June 7, 2018 (“Petition”). ECF No. 269. The Petition seeks an order finding that the proposed Joint Tortfeasor Release and Indemnification Agreement (“Settlement Agreement”) entered into by Hilton and Plaintiffs Flora Kim, individually and as Guardian Ad Litem for W.K., and David Kang (“Plaintiffs”) was made in good faith pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 663-15.5. See ECF No. 269-1 at 5. Hilton also requests that the Court discharge Hilton from all liability for any contribution to any other joint tortfeasor or co-obligor. Id. at 9-10. Hilton filed an unredacted copy of the Settlement Agreement under seal, and provided copies to all parties. ECF No. 269-2 at ¶ 6; ECF No. 281.

         Defendant, Third-Party Defendant Otis Elevator Company filed a Statement of No Opposition to the Petition on June 14, 2018. See ECF No. 279. Defendant Crocs, Inc. filed a Statement of No Opposition to the Petition on June 15, 2018. See ECF No. 280. Plaintiffs filed a Memorandum in Support of the Petition on June 19, 2018. See ECF No. 291.

         The Court elected to decide the Petition without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. After carefully considering the submissions of the parties and the relevant legal authority, the Court FINDS and RECOMMENDS that the district Court GRANT the Petition for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         This action arises from an incident that occurred on September 10, 2014, on an escalator at Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, which is owned and managed by Hilton. Hilton and Plaintiffs reached a confidential settlement on June 3, 2018. In the present Petition, Hilton seeks a determination of good faith settlement pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes section 663-15.5.

         DISCUSSION

         A finding of good faith settlement (1) discharges the settling party from liability for contribution to other joint tortfeasors, (2) reduces a plaintiff's claims against joint tortfeasors by the amount stipulated to in the release or in the amount of the consideration paid for it, whichever is greater, (3) bars other joint tortfeasors from further claims against the settling joint tortfeasor, except where there is a written indemnity agreement, and (4) results in dismissal of all crossclaims against the settling joint tortfeasor, except where there is a written indemnity agreement. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 663-15.5(a) and (d). In determining whether parties have entered into a good faith settlement, the court must consider the “totality of the circumstances” including:

(1) the type of case and difficulty of proof at trial . . .;
(2) the realistic approximation of total damages that the plaintiff seeks
(3) the strength of the plaintiff's claim and the realistic likelihood of his or her success at trial;
(4) the predicted expense of litigation;
(5) the relative degree of fault of the settling ...

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