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Rigsbee v. City and County of Honolulu

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

October 16, 2018

CLIFFORD MCARTHUR RIGSBEE, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Clifford Meredith Rigsbee, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(A) REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF HEDONIC DAMAGES (ECF NO. 48) AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(A) REGARDING THE ESTATE'S SURVIVAL-CLAIM FOR FUTURE LOST EARNINGS (ECF NO. 50)

          Helen Gillmor District Judge.

         On June 14, 2016, Clifford Meredith Rigsbee (“Decedent”) was engaged in rescue watercraft training as part of his duties as a firefighter with the Honolulu Fire Department. The training was conducted on the navigable waters within the State of Hawaii on the southeast shore of Oahu, less than one marine league from shore.

         During the ocean training, Decedent suffered blunt force injury to his head and neck. He was brought ashore and transported to Straub Medical Center. Two days later, on June 16, 2014, he died as a result of his injuries.

         Plaintiff Clifford McArthur Rigsbee, as the personal representative of the Estate of the Decedent, filed a First Amended Complaint against the City and County of Honolulu. The First Amended Complaint asserts claims for negligence and seeks damages on behalf of the Estate as a result of the Decedent's death.

         Plaintiff has filed two motions. The motions seek rulings concerning the types of damages available in this action.

         First, Plaintiff seeks damages pursuant to general maritime law for the future lifetime loss of the Decedent's earnings.

         Second, Plaintiff seeks to supplement the damages available to the Estate pursuant to general maritime law with hedonic damages pursuant to Hawaii state law.

         Defendant City and County of Honolulu takes no position on either of Plaintiff's Motions.

         Plaintiff's Motions (ECF Nos. 48, 50) are GRANTED.

         The Estate of Clifford Meredith Rigsbee may seek to recover damages for the Decedent's lost future earnings.

         The Estate may also seek to recover hedonic damages pursuant to Hawaii state law.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 23, 2017, Plaintiff Clifford McArthur Rigsbee, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Clifford Meredith Rigsbee, deceased, filed a Complaint. (ECF No. 1).

         On January 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE DEFENDANT'S SEVENTH AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE (FOR ASSUMPTION OF RISK). (ECF No. 27).

         On February 14, 2018, the Court issued a STIPULATION TO DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE THE SEVENTH AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE OF DEFENDANT CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU'S ANSWER TO COMPLAINT, FILED ON DECEMBER 18, 2017 AND ORDER. (ECF No. 30).

         On May 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed the FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT. (ECF No. 36).

         On July 18, 2018, Plaintiff filed PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF HEDONIC DAMAGES and a Concise Statement of Facts in Support. (ECF Nos. 48 and 49).

         On the same date, Plaintiff filed PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE ESTATE'S SURVIVAL-CLAIM FOR FUTURE LOST EARNINGS and a Concise Statement of Facts in Support. (ECF Nos. 50 and 51).

         On August 7, 2018, Defendant filed DEFENDANT CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU'S STATEMENT OF NO POSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE ESTATE'S SURVIVAL-CLAIM FOR FUTURE LOST EARNINGS. (ECF No. 57).

         On the same date, Defendant filed DEFENDANT CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU'S STATEMENT OF NO POSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF HEDONIC DAMAGES. (ECF No. 58).

         On September 7, 2018, the Court elected to decide the Motions without a hearing pursuant to District of Hawaii Local Rule 7.2(d). (ECF No. 68).

         BACKGROUND

         The Parties do not dispute the following facts:

Clifford Meredith Rigsbee (“Decedent”) was employed as a firefighter with the Honolulu Fire Department. (First Amended Complaint at ¶ 7, attached as Ex. A to Pla.'s Concise Statement of Facts, ECF No. 49-2; Amended Answer at ¶ 3, attached as Ex. B to Pla.'s Motion, ECF No. 49-3).

         On June 14, 2016, Decedent was assigned to rescue watercraft training on the southeast shore of ...


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