Damon Key Attorneys Present Seminar at Hawaii Senior Life Enrichment Association
February 13, 2016
Damon Key’s Kelly Morikone and Megumi Honami recently presented a seminar at the Hawaii Senior Life Enrichment Association.
HISLEA is a Hawaii/Japan non-profit organization with about 800+ members mostly 55+ retired seniors that travel back and forth between Japan and Hawaii that focus on an active senior life. This February 11, 2016 session discussed long-term stays in Hawaii.
Damon Key’s Loren Seehase talks to UH Law Students About Interview Skills
February 07, 2016
On February 1, 2016, Damon Key attorney Loren A. Seehase (along with Dean Ronette Kawakami and Dale Lee, Director of Professional Development & Externship Programs), presented to the first-year law students at the University of Hawaii the ins and outs of legal interviews.
The session consisted of an overview of the on-campus interview program. She also presented her list her list of interviewing rules, tips, and tricks, and explained the process and what to expect. She gave her tips on how to dress, present yourself, prepare your documents; what to expect at each stage; types of interviewers; types of questions that will be asked and how to prepare for them; acceptable questions to ask the interviewer and questions that should not be asked; rules of things not to do; stressed honesty; encouraged showing your personality; explained how to craft answers to the difficult questions; explained what characteristics firms are looking for; discussed qualifications that are beneficial to have; stressed the importance of selling your qualifications; and stressed the importance of assessing the compatibility of the firm to the interviewee.
Anna Oshiro in Pacific Business News: Court’s Construction Law Ruling Threatens Economic Growth
May 10, 2015
Damon Key attorney Anna H. Oshiro was quoted in the recent Pacific Business News story “Opponents say Okada Trucking case raised Hawaii construction costs.”
Here’s what she had to say:
Anna Oshiro, a director for Honolulu law firm Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, who has written a 50-page analysis of the Okada Trucking case, told PBN this week that there hasn’t been a push during this legislative session to change the decision.
She also thinks that, legislatively, the case probably won’t go anywhere.
“This case has been around long enough,” Oshiro said.
“The decision has negatively impacted the public procurement process, has made public procurement more expensive, and now threatens to impact economic growth, to the detriment of the state,” Oshiro wrote in her analysis, titled “Okada Trucking: How the Supreme Court redefined what it means to be a general contractor in Hawaii.”
“At the same time, there is no evidence of any measurable benefit in terms of increased public satisfaction of safety as a result of the decision,” she added.
Ken Kupchak, Tred Eyerly, Mark Murakami in National Press: “Insurer Must Cover Hawaii Dam Litigation
March 31, 2015
Law360 reported on the recent Hawaii Supreme Court victory by Damon Key’s Ken Kupchak, Tred Eyerly, and Mark M. Murakami in C. Brewer and Company Ltd. v. Marine Indemnity Insurance Co. of America, SCWC-28958 (Haw. Mar. 27, 2015) (opinion available here). The report notes, “Kenneth R. Kupchak of Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, who represents Brewer, told Law360 that they were pleased with the court’s opinion, calling it ‘concise and to the point.’
‘This opinion essentially gave us everything we asked for,’ Kupchak said.”
The case involved the question of insurance coverage for claims arising out of the breach of the Kaloko Dam on Kauai.
Read the story here (”Insurer Must Cover Hawaii Collapsed Dam Litigation”).
Damon Key’s Clare Hanusz a Featured Speaker at UH Panel on Immigration Law
March 24, 2015
On March 31, 2015, at 5:30 p.m., Damon Key Immigration and Naturalization lawyer Clare Hanusz will be a featured panelist at a program the University of Hawaii Law School, “Demystifying Deferred Action: The Benefits and the Limitations of DACA and DAPA.”
Here’s the flyer with all the information:
KHON Report on Damon Key’s Community Meeting re Rail
March 03, 2015
More about the Thursday, March 5, 2015 community meeting about protecting property owners’ rights if their land, businesses, or homes are targeted for eminent domain by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit for the 20-mile, 21-station rail project. Details and RSVP here.
Property Owners Invited: Honolulu Rail Project Public Informational Meeting, Thursday, March 5, 2015
February 23, 2015
RSVP information below.
On Thursday, March 5, 2015, from 6:00 - 7:15 p.m. at the Farrington High School Cafeteria (1564 North King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii), we’re inviting property owners, businesses, and residents whose rights may be impacted by the Honolulu rail project to join us for an informational meeting about the rights of property owners when their property is targeted for acquisition for public transit projects, and how to protect those rights.
Here’s the invite which we sent out:
Hawaii’s Constitution requires “just compensation” and monetary damages be paid if private property is taken for a public use such as the Honolulu rail project. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit has already begun acquiring privately-owned property it needs for the rail corridor from the airport to Ala Moana, as shown in the video below.Landowners along the rail route have substantial rights that may be impacted. For background and a FAQ on Honolulu’s rail project, see Clearing Up Myths About Hawaii Eminent Domain Law and the Rail. More here: All Aboard? Honolulu Rail is Coming.
HART initially attempts to purchase property and other rights needed for the project by negotiation, but in the event it cannot reach an agreement with an owner about the compensation and damages it owes, HART has the authority to force immediate surrender of property by filing an eminent domain lawsuit against the owner, which allows a jury or a judge to determine the property’s value.
Please join Mark Murakami and Robert Thomas for an informational town hall meeting at which we will discuss the rail project, your rights as a property owner under Hawaii’s eminent domain law, and how you can protect your rights during the acquisition process. Here’s the location, date, and time:
- Location: Farrington High Cafeteria
- Address: 1564 North King Street (free parking)
- Date: Thursday, March 5, 2015
- Time: 6:00 – 7:15 p.m.
Topics we will cover will include:
- Can I prevent HART from taking my property?
- What rights do I have if HART wants to enter my property to survey and drill for soil testing?
- The valuation process: how is “just compensation” and damages calculated by the courts?
- HART’s offer does not adequately compensate me – do I have to wait for HART to sue?
- What are my rights as a landlord, a tenant, or a business owner whose property is taken by HART?
- I have a mortgage on my property. Does the lender have any claim?
- What are my rights if HART takes less than 100% of my parcel?
- What does the law require if my home or my business must be relocated as a result of the project?
We have also invited an appraiser to attend to discuss the appraisal process.
We and our law firm currently represent several landowners whose property is targeted by HART for the rail. We have also represented property owners in eminent domain and similar matters for many years. Mark was Best Lawyers’ in America’s “Best Lawyer of the Year in Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law” for Honolulu in 2013, and Robert shared this designation in 2014. Mark and Robert and their partner Ken Kupchak are listed in Honolulu Magazine‘s “Best Lawyers in Hawaii” and in Hawaii SuperLawyers in Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law.
While the format of the meeting will not lend itself to individual consultations, there will be a short session after our presentation to respond to general questions. Light refreshments will be provided. We hope you or a representative are able to join us.
Christopher Leong Elected as Officer of HSBA’s Appellate Law Section
December 17, 2014
Damon Key attorney Christopher J.I. Leong (pictured below, second from right) has been elected as the Vice-Chair of the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Appellate Law Section. Our congratulations to Chris.
Greg Kugle and Mark Murakami Present “2014 Real Estate Litigation Update” to State Bar Assocation
December 06, 2014
Damon Key attorneys Greg Kugle and Mark Murakami recently made a presentation sponsored by the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Real Property and Financial Services Section, summarizing the most important decisions of the year, appropriately titled “Real Estate Litigation Update.”
The materials from the session are posted here. Watch the video below.
Damon Key Immigration Attorney Clare Hanusz to Speak at Human Trafficking Symposium
December 02, 2014
On January 16, 2015, Damon Key’s Clare Hanusz will be speaking at the “Human Trafficking in Asia and the Pacific Symposium,” at the Center for Korean Studies Auditorium. The event will run from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Clare is speaking on “Labor Trafficking in Hawaii: A Case Study of Thai Farm Works with Global Horizons and Aloun Farms.”
More information on the event flyer:
From Damon Key’s Immigration Practice Group: Scholars and Former INS/USCIS Attorneys Find President
December 02, 2014
Citing federal statutes, regulations, and historical precedent, 136 law professors wrote a letter to Congress stating that President Obama’s November 20 expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program are within the legal authority of the executive branch of the U.S. government. Several former General and Chief Counsels of INS and USCIS also wrote a letter affirming the legal analysis and conclusions of the law professors.
USCIS expects to implement the new DAPA program within 180 days of the President’s November 20, 2013 address to the nation. DAPA will give parents of US citizen children under age 21 protection from deportation for three years, along with employment authorization. We expect the new program to be in effect by May. Persons who may benefit from DAPA should begin gathering documents proving they have been in the US since January 1, 2010, and that they are the parents of US citizen children.
BEWARE OF “NOTARIOS,” “TRAVEL AGENTS,” AND OTHER SCAM ARTISTS AND THEIR FALSE PROMISES. THEY ARE ONLY AFTER YOUR MONEY. IF YOU SEEK HELP FILING A DAPA APPLICATION, BE CERTAIN YOU ARE DEALING WITH A REPUTABLE IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY WHO IS A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION.
Strong Roots: Welcoming Sommerset Wong & Ikaika Rawlins to Damon Key
November 19, 2014
Damon Key is proud to welcome to our firm our two newest lawyers, Sommerset K.M. Wong and Ikaika B. Rawlins.
Deeply rooted in Hawaii, both are graduates of Kamehameha Schools, Kapalama Campus, and the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Sommerset’s extensive involvement at law school included serving as both volunteer case manager and teaching assistant for the Hawaii Innocence Project, an organization committed to providing free representation to incarcerated individuals. Prior to joining the firm, she interned with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Hawaii State Bar Association. Sommerset joins the Dispute Resolution Practice Group.
Originally from Hilo, Ikaika has a diverse background that includes teaching students through traditional Hawaiian navigation aboard the Hokualakai voyaging canoe. Also, in a career that preceded law school, Ikaika specialized in shopping center leasing, sales and development. He joins the firm’s Real Estate, Corporate Law, and Estate Planning and Probate Practice Groups.
Damon Key celebrates its deep roots with more than 50 years of service in Hawaii. To learn more about our new Associates and our firm’s legacy of excellence, please visit hawaiilawyer.com.
Summer Associate Hiring Update - September 2014
September 23, 2014
We have completed our hiring process for 2015 Summer Associates, and are therefore no longer accepting applications. Please visit our Careers pages for more information about our hiring process for lateral candidates.
Christine Kubota Reappointed to Haw Supreme Ct Committee on Court Interpreters and Language Access
September 19, 2014
Damon Key attorney Christine A. Kubota has been reappointed to the Hawaii Supreme Court’s Committee on Court Interpreters and Language Access, and shall continue to serve as co-chair of the Committee.
Find out more about this important Committee here, and how it helps insure access to the courts for all litigants.
Damon Key Immigration Attorney Clare Hanusz to Speak at Honolulu Museum Film Screening
September 13, 2014
Damon Key Immigration attorney Clare Hanusz will be speaking on a panel discussion about immigration reform following the premiere screening of “Underwater Dreams,” on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre.
The film “tells the epic story of four undocumented Mexican-American high school students who enter a NASA-sponsored robotics contest…and defeat MIT with an ingeniously constructed underwater robot (aptly named “Stinky”). The competition, however, was only the beginning. These boys forged a legacy that could not have been imagined. Their unlikely achievement, in 2004, reverberates a decade later, helping the students who followed them at Carl Hayden Community High School in Arizona to have more confidence and even, in some cases, propelling them to work as engineers and as leaders in Dreamer groups.”
More information, including ticket purchase, here.
Summer Associate Hiring Update - August 2014
August 25, 2014
Recruiting update: We have completed our on-campus interviews at the University of Hawaii, and are currently in the call-back interview process.
For law students attending schools other than the University of Hawaii, we are no longer accepting applications for our 2015 Summer Associate Program. Please visit our Careers pages for more information.
Damon Key to Interview at University of Hawaii Law School
July 15, 2014
Damon Key is participating in the University of Hawaii Law School’s on-campus recruiting program. We are currently reviewing materials in preparation for the fall hiring season for 2015 Summer Associates. We will be interviewing on Friday, August 22, 2014. Students: please contact the Office of Career Service for details about our visit.
For law students attending schools other than the University of Hawaii, please send your materials to the Chair of the firm’s Hiring Committee, Robert H. Thomas.
Damon Key Welcomes Sara E. Coes
May 27, 2014
Please join us in welcoming Sara E. Coes to Damon Key.
Sara joined the firm in mid-2014, and is now practicing in the areas of business and commercial law, real estate and estate planning. An accomplished lawyer with strong negotiation and contract skills, she possesses a comprehensive understanding of Chinese culture and experience in bridging communications and successfully closing deals between US and European companies and Asian companies.
Sara is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and her unique skills benefit both Chinese-speaking clients seeking legal services in Hawaii and clients who are negotiating with Chinese nationals. Find out more about her here.
Clare Hanusz Law School Lecture: Victim Interview Techniques and Evidentiary Issues
March 18, 2014
Damon Key immigration lawyer Clare Hanusz recently presented a lecture at the University of Hawaii law school on Victim Interview Techniques and Evidentiary Issues in Professor Tae-Ung Baik’s International Human Rights Clinic. Drawing from her experiences representing victims of domestic violence, torture and human trafficking she shared real-life stories and best practice techniques with a future generation of lawyers.
Here’s Clare with Professor Tae-Ung Baik.
Damon Key Welcomes Christopher Leong
March 17, 2014
The firm welcomes its newest addition, Christopher J.I. Leong, who is now practicing in our Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group. He graduated cum laude from the University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law, where he served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the University of Hawaii Law Review. Prior to joining the firm, Christopher served as law clerk to Associate Justice Paula A. Nakayama of the Hawaii Supreme Court. More about him here.
Mark Murakami Presents “Contested Matters” Chapter in Hawaii Probate Manual
January 10, 2014
On January 10, 2014, Damon Key attorney Mark Murakami presented a session to the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Probate Law Section for the rollout of the 2014 update of the Probate Forms Manual. Mark co-authored the update of the Contested Matters chapter, originally authored by Doug Smith, the Chair of Damon Key’s Estate Planning Practice Group.
Other panelists included Damon Key alumna Courtney Kajikawa, and First Circuit Probate Judge Derrick Chan.
Christine Kubota to Lead International Women’s Leadership Summit
December 10, 2013
Damon Key attorney Christine A. Kubota is the Planning Co-chair of the upcoming Women’s Leadership Summit in Hawaii, a three-day conference and meeting on February 13, 14, and 15, 2014 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, featuring speakers from around the world.
Download the brochure here.
Welcome to Madeleine M.V. Young
November 05, 2013
Damon Key welcomes our newest lawyer to the firm’s Estate Planning Practice Group, Madeleine M. V. Young. More about her here.
Diane D. Hastert Honored as U. Hawaii Law School Dean’s Alumna of the Year
September 28, 2013
Diane D. Hastert was honored at the 10th All-Class Reunion of the University of Hawaii Law School. Diane (Williams S. Richardson School of Law ‘78) was named the Dean’s Alumna of the Year.”
Mark Murakami Elected as Bar Association Treasurer
September 28, 2013
In a statewide election, Mark M. Murakami was elected to be the Treasurer of the Hawaii State Bar Association for 2014. During his one year term, he will be responsible for the operating and reserve budgets of the association, as well as Chair the Finance Committee and be a member of the Executive Committee. The Hawaii State Bar Association is a mandatory professional organization for active and inactive licensed attorneys in Hawaii.
Our Law Film Festival “Let’s Film All The Lawyers” - Opening Night at the Honolulu Museum of Art
September 15, 2013
We kicked off our second law film festival, “Let’s Film All The Lawyers,” which we sponsor with the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre, on Saturday, September 14, 2013. We started the day with a well-attended 1 pm screening of “Hannah Arendt,” the Hawaii premiere of the award-winning biopic about the controversial German-Jewish philosopher who covered the war crimes trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem.
We continued the day with the Opening Night reception (photos here), and an evening screening of Hannah Arendt. Great audiences attended each screening.
On Sunday, September 15, 2013, we continue with a 4pm screening of the classic “12 Angry Men,” followed at 7:30pm showing of the new classic “My Cousin Vinny.”
The festival continues the following week, and wraps on Friday, September 20, 2013. For more, visit the Festival’s web site www.lawinfilm.com
Legal Alert: Spring/Summer 2013
August 22, 2013
Download our latest Legal Alert, with articles on construction issues, estate planning, and insurance coverage. We also introduce you to our newest lawyer, Judith A. Schevtchuk. And more!
Christine Kubota to Lead Seminar: Real Estate and Immigration
June 27, 2013
On Thursday, August 8, 2013, from 10 am - noon, Damon Key attorney Christine Kubota will lead a seminar on “Real Estate and Litigation” at the Old Republic Title and Escrow of Hawaii offices at 900 Fort Street, 19th Floor. For more, including how to register, please see the flyer below.
Two Damon Key Attorneys in the News
June 19, 2013
Damon Key lawyers have been in the newspapers recently. First, Greg Kugle was quoted in “Defend Oahu wants Turtle Bay expansion approval nixed” in the Star-Advertiser, and Robert Thomas was quoted in the Honolulu Civil Beat story “Hawaii Monitor: Primary Politics.”
Damon Key Attorney Chris Kubota Presents Check To Training Ship Crew
June 17, 2013
Damon Key attorney Christine Kubota currently serves as President of The United Japanese Society of Hawaii, and she recently presented a check to a school that trains fishermen in Fukushima, Japan that was heavily damaged in the recent tsunami. The training ship Fukushima Maru came with students, and she met with the captain of the boat and presented him a check to take back to the school.
Damon Key Welcomes Family Law Attorney Judith A. Schevtchuk
June 17, 2013
Last month, Damon Key welcomed experienced local attorney Judith A. Schevtchuk as Of Counsel to the firm. She will be continuing her family law practice with the emphasis on military family law and guardianship issues. Schevtchuk (SEVT-chuk) handles both traditional family law matters and dissolutions of civil unions and other alternative family arrangements for all members of our community regardless of the state where they entered their relationship.
Prior to joining the firm, Judy had been a solo family law practitioner in Honolulu (1993-1995 and 1997-2013), was a Deputy Prosecutor and an associate at another Hawaii law firm. Judy retired (2001), as a Commander from the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve. Previously, she had served on active duty with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC) in Washington, DC, and with the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. After active duty, Judy became a civilian Special Agent in what is now the Naval Criminal Investigative Service at Port Hueneme and Point Mugu, California, and later at NCIS headquarters in Washington DC. Judy jokes that she served with both “JAG” and “NCIS” before either of those organizations had become popular TV shows.
Born in Indiana, Judy graduated from Indiana University’s Mauer School of Law at Bloomington and first came to Honolulu in 1989. Active as a member of the Disciplinary Board of the Hawaii Supreme Court, Judy is also a member of Hawaii Women Lawyers, and the Family Law Sections of both the Hawaii State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
Find out more about Judy here.
Upcoming Conference: Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law in Hawaii - August 21, 2013
May 27, 2013
On August 21, 2013, The Seminar Group is presenting the Second Annual Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law Conference, in Honolulu. Damon Key lawyer Mark M. Murakami is the Planning Chair, and has assembled a stellar faculty, which includes fellow DKLKH lawyers Anna H. Oshiro and Robert H. Thomas.
Topics covered include Honolulu Rail Litigation Update – EIS and Acquisitions; The Evolving Process of Eminent Domain – Condemnation Update; Recent Court Decisions of Interest; Contractor Licensing Update; Development Near the Right of Way; Uniform Relocation Act Benefits; Rail Development and Property Valuation; and Ethics in Eminent Domain: Obligations of Condemnor’s and Condemnee’s Counsel.
Find out more, including registration information and a complete agenda and faculty list here.
Audio of HSBA Presentation on Amicus Briefing
May 27, 2013
Here is the audio recording of Damon Key lawyer Robert Thomas’s recent presentation to the Hawaii State Bar Association on “Amicus Briefing.”
Click here to stream or download the mp3 (27 minutes).
The handout and the links mentioned in the talk are posted below, or here.
Damon Key Attorney Tred Eyerly’s HSBA Presentation on Insurance Coverage for Construction Defects
May 21, 2013
On May, 21, 2013, Tred Eyerly spoke to the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Litigation Section about the “Group Builders” issue (insurance coverage for construction defects). View his presentation materials here.
Here are Tred’s presentation materials:
Legal Alert: U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies When Debts Can Be Discharged In Bankruptcy
May 14, 2013
by Michael A. Yoshida
On Monday, May 13, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified when certain debts can be discharged in bankruptcy. In Bullock v. BankChampaign, NA, No. 11-1518, the unanimous Court explained what the term “defalcation” means in section 523(a)(4) of the Bankruptcy Code.
In that case, Randy Bullock’s father established a trust for the benefit of Bullock and his siblings, making Bullock the trustee. Bullock borrowed money from the trust three times, and although each loan was repaid with interest and the court found no malicious intent, his siblings obtained a judgment against him for breach of his fiduciary duty as trustee. Bullock then filed for bankruptcy, seeking to discharge the debt. Generally speaking, debts such as money judgments may be discharged in bankruptcy unless the debt is a result of “fraud or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity, embezzlement, or larceny.” His siblings claimed the judgment was nondischargeable because although Bullock may not have acted with malicious intent, loaning money to himself from the trust could be characterized as objectively reckless. The bankruptcy court agreed, and held that the debt was non-dischargeable.
The Supreme Court disagreed, and concluded that the term “defalcation” includes “a culpable state of mind requirement” which involves knowledge of, or gross recklessness in respect to, the improper nature of someone’s conduct. In other words, since the lower courts had not found that Bullock had acted with ill intent or that he had caused the trust to lose principal, the judgment in favor of his siblings could be discharged in bankruptcy. The Court concluded:
“Thus, where the conduct at issue does not involve bad faith, moral turpitude, or other immoral conduct, the term requires an intentional wrong. We include as intentional not only conduct that the fiduciary knows is improper but also reckless conduct of the kind that the criminal law often treats as the equivalent.”
What this means is that an absence of actual knowledge that what someone is doing is wrong will not insulate that person from a finding of “defalcation,” but includes situations where that person consciously disregards or is willfully blind to the risk that his or her conduct will turn out to violate a fiduciary duty.
New Court Decision Adds to the Costs of Construction
April 23, 2013
The Hawaii Supreme Court has issued a construction licensing opinion concluding that renovation contractors are not entitled to undertake specialty work (such as painting), directly related to and necessary for the completion of the renovation project, unless the cost and scope of the specialty work is “incidental and supplemental” in comparison to the overall cost and scope of the project.
The case involved jalousie removal and installation on a school renovation project. The work was bid for by a contractor with a renovation license, who was challenged as unlicensed to do the work because it didn’t have a glazing license. The State, which accepted the contractor’s bid and deemed it properly licensed for the jalousie work, argued the contractor had a renovation license and that entitled it to do specialty work “directly related to and necessary for the completion of” the renovation project.”
In a 3-2 decision, the Supreme Court said no: renovation contractors may only perform specialty work that is “incidental and supplemental” to a renovation job, taking into account the cost and scope of the work. The Court held the incidental and supplemental exception was supposed to have been work narrow and minor in scope. Yet, the decision provides virtually no guidance on what would qualify as “narrow and minor.” Thus, contractors don’t know what percentage or amount of specialty work will be deemed legally unacceptable, nor what “work” is to be counted in making that determination.
Because the question of what is “incidental and supplemental” is now gray at best, it will likely be subject to continued bid protests and litigation. This is bad news for the long overdue renovation work needed at Hawaii’s schools and other public buildings, which will now be subject to a new round of bid protests. Hawaii already leads the nation for cost of construction in nearly every category, and this decision will only add to that unfortunate statistic. This will also mean for every renovation project (homes, schools, airports, courthouses, for example) contractors may now need to hire subcontractors to perform work they used to perform themselves, which will mean more expense, and will also mean less work for the industry.
Damon Key Participates in Access to Justice Commission’s Pro Bono Initiative
March 30, 2013
The firm is participating in the Access to Justice Commission’s Pro Bono Initiative, and last month, Damon Key attorneys Mark Murakami, Bethany Ace, and Tred Eyerly represented the firm at the ceremony recognizing the participating law firms.
The firm was honored with a resolution from the Legislature praising our commitment to pro bono, by pledging to serve the Access to Justice Room at Honolulu District Court for November.
Pictured are Bethany and Mark, with the Justices of the Hawaii Supreme Court.
Anna Oshiro Updates the Construction-Related Bills Moving Through the Hawaii Legislature
March 30, 2013
Anna H. Oshiro has the latest on several important bills working their way through the Hawaii Legislature here.
Damon Key Attorney to Deliver Keynote Address at Virginia Eminent Domain and Takings Law Conference
March 30, 2013
Damon Key attorney Robert Thomas will be delivering the Keynote Address at the 7th Annual Virginia Eminent Domain Conference - Local, State, and National Trends at the Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia, on April 25, 2013. His presentation will be about “Virginia’s Place in National Eminent Domain Trends.” The following day, He’ll also be presenting a one-hour session on “Tough Takings Questions: Regulatory Takings, Zoning Issues and Judicial Takings” featuring the latest updates in those areas.
More information about the Conference here.
Kupchak, Murakami, in Pacific Business News on Eminent Domain and the Rail Project
March 16, 2013
Ken Kupchak and Mark Murakami were quoted in the Pacific Business News story “Land acquisition for rail could face legal action down the track” (Mar. 15, 2013).
“Kenneth Kupchak, president of the Honolulu-based law firm Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, said that with so many properties yet to be acquired, he expects to see an increase in the number of eminent domain cases along rail’s route, especially when HART gets closer to starting construction in Downtown Honolulu and Kakaako. ‘There are a number of people along the rail line who are seeking counsel and appraisers’ assistance,’ he said. ‘I’m anticipating there will be litigation.’ He said some property owners along the route between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center already have contacted his law firm, but he declined to name them.
Read the story here.
Eyerly to Speak at ABA Insurance Conference in Tucson
February 25, 2013
Damon Key attorney Tred Eyerly will be speaking at the upcoming American Bar Association Litigation Section’s conference on Insurance Coverage in Tucson, Arizona. As always, this year’s conference will offer a number of informative, cutting-edge sessions on a variety of insurance coverage-related topics. Participants from across the country with varying perspectives on insurance coverage will attend. The conference agenda and more details are posted here.
Tred will be participating on a panel about “Bad Faith - Crossing the Line,” which will address a hypothetical case involving close cases of potential bad faith in the handling of a claim and the pertinent case law.
Tred’s blog, Insurance Law Hawaii, is one of the most widely-read law blogs on the subject of Insurance Law.
Damon Key Attorney Mark Murakami to Speak on Property Law and the PLDC at UH Law School
February 23, 2013
On Tuesday, February 26, 2013 from 7:15 - 8:309 p.m. in Classroom #2, the University of Hawaii Law School is sponsoring a talk about “The PLDC and Property Rights in Hawaii,” featuring Damon Key attorney Mark M. Murakami.
“PLDC” refers to the Public Land Development Corporation, a state agency created in 2011 to develop state-owned lands, primarily in concert with private entities. Since its formation, the PLDC has become highly controversial, and the Hawaii Senate recently voted to repeal it. The panel will discuss three issues: the different perspectives on the PLDC issue itself, how the controversy over the PLDC reflects the tensions underlying the property rights regime in Hawaii, and (in an unrelated but pressing subject for law students) the speakers’ views on how to thrive in law school and the legal job opportunities after graduation.
Joining Mark on the panel are Professor Shelley Saxer (Pepperdine); Marti Townsend, Executive Director of the Outdoor Circle; and Chris Lee, State House of Representatives member.
For more details on how to attend download the flyer.
Damon Key Honored by Legislature for Pro Bono Efforts
February 23, 2013
In February, Damon Key attorneys Mark Murakami, Bethany Ace, and Tred Eyerly represented the firm at the Access to Justice Commission’s Pro Bono Initiative. The firm received an official resolution from the Legislature praising our commitment to pro bono, by pledging to serve the Access to Justice Room at Honolulu District Court for November. A great way to kick off our 50th Anniversary.
Damon Key Construction Law Attorneys File Brief in Hawaii Supreme Court on Licensing Issues
January 02, 2013
This case involves contractors’ licensing and whether the holder of a specialty renovation license is entitled to do certain specialty renovation work as “incidental and supplemental” to that license. The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the licensee, and dismissed a challenge by another specialty contractor, and held that the Contractors’ License Board was within its discretion when it adopted administrative rules defining the term “incidental and supplemental.” The Hawaii Supreme Court accepted certiorari to review this question.
Damon Key attorneys Anna Oshiro, Robert Thomas, and Mark Murakami filed this brief on behalf of the General Contractors Association of Hawaii, supporting the CLB’s interpretation of the rule, asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to affirm the judgment. From the brief’s Introduction:
This case implicates much more than the scope of contractors’ licenses, and whether a contractor with a C-5 specialty renovation license entitling it in a renovation project to perform “any other work” that will not change the structure, must employ a C-22 subcontractor to replace windows. Rather, this case asks whether the Board’s definition of “incidental and supplemental” work deserves deference because it is consistent with the plain meaning of those words, and whether the Board—comprised of five general contractors, five specialty contractors, and three members of the public who have been charged with the responsibility of carrying out the mandate of the contractor licensing statutes—“possesses expertise and experience in [its] particular field.” Okada Trucking Co. v. Bd. of Water Supply, 97 Haw. 450, 458, 40 P.3d 73, 81 (2002) (“insofar as an administrative hearings officer possesses expertise and experience in his or her particular field, the appellate court ‘should not substitute its own judgment for that of the agency’ either with respect to questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law.”).
Petitioners invite this Court to go much further than merely overturning the Hearings Officer’s conclusion that window replacement was “incidental and supplemental” to a C-5 license. It urges the Court to “substitute its own judgment for that of the agency” by rewriting the Board’s rules to define “incidental and supplemental” to mean only “minor” work.
U.S. News/Best Lawyers: Damon Key among “Best Law Firms”
November 01, 2012
We’re pleased to announce that the firm has received Tier 1 ranking in the 2013 edition of U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” in Commercial Litigation, Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law, Land Use & Zoning Law, Litigation-Eminent Domain and Condemnation, and Litigation-Land Use & Zoning. More here.
Federal Ct Complaint: City violates federal, state laws by blocking development of senior housing
November 01, 2012
Huapala Senior Care E, LLC, a developer of residential housing for elderly residents of Manoa Valley, today filed a lawsuit in federal court against the City and County of Honolulu. The lawsuit (see Complaint) charges that the City, specifically the Departments of Permitting & Planning and the Department of Environmental Services, have violated both federal and state laws in trying to block the development of some senior housing facilities in Manoa Valley.
Huapala Senior Care desires to construct four senior living homes in the center of Manoa Valley on a lot of about 53,000 square feet that has been zoned for residential living for years. Each of the four homes would house eight elderly tenants and two on-site senior care staff members. Huapala Senior Care is connected with Manoa Senior Care, a management company that currently operates seven retirement homes in Manoa Valley and Kaimuki with a total of 56 elderly residents.
According to the lawsuit, the action by the City stopping the construction of three of the planned homes is not only in violation of local State laws, which require that Senior Care Homes are treated the same as any single-family dwelling when it comes to obtaining permits; but it also goes against both the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Those two national laws make it clear that a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, practices or services when such accommodations are necessary to allow disabled or elderly people the opportunity for have housing is illegal.
Kenneth Kupchak, the attorney representing Huapala Senior Care, said the lawsuit was filed because the City, after giving assurances for a number of months that the project could proceed, moved to stop the buildout about six months ago. “In August of last year,” Kupchak said, “my client was told by the City that his project was conditionally approved, so long as there would be construction of a relief sewer line in the area by Huapala Senior Care.”
Soon after, Kupchak said, the City Permitting Office also issued a demolition permit for some older structures on the property and, in December, 2011, issued a permit allowing Huapala to construct four building foundations for the new senior living facilities. The four foundations were then built out at a cost in excess of $300,000.
However, in March of this year, seven months after giving its conditional approval, the City Permitting Office, in correspondence with the Huapala group, said that there were concerns with the project’s sewer flow and thus the development would need to be revised. According to Kupchak, Huapala management believed that it was entitled to a direct sewer connection based upon its plans, but “if the City had legal grounds to deny that, my client knew it could rely on an approved diversion as a worst case and that is why they proceeded to purchase the property.”
Therefore, to reassure the City that there would be no sewer problems with the project, Huapala’s engineering firm submitted documents proposing a diversion plan that would be paid for by the developer and eliminate any sewer issues. When the City did not approve that plan, Huapala proposed building an on-site Holding Tank that would retain sewage during the day and then release it into the existing sewer system during early morning hours when there would be no issue of excess flow. The Holding Tank proposal was also rejected by the City despite the fact that there is a written policy stating “holding tanks may be considered as an alternative method of servicing residential projects in areas where the sewer system is inadequate.”
The City did give final permission for one of the four buildings to be constructed and, as a result, Huapala has moved forward with the vertical construction of just that single structure. However, the other three home foundations, already built, remain unattended on the lot. Paul Dold, the President of both Huapala and Manoa Senior Care, says that his company does not want to be in a legal fight, but there is no other choice given the City’s stance. “Just as in our other projects, we have done our best to comply with all rules and regulations related to senior living facilities,” he said. “It’s very frustrating that a process which usually takes two-three months has now stretched out for more than a year. With Hawaii’s population of people over the age of 65 expected to grow dramatically over the next two decades, there will be an increasing need for places where our senior citizens can live their final years in comfort. We really hope the City will recognize that fact and that this can be resolved quickly.” Manoa Senior Care began business in 1994 and currently has three residential homes in Kaimuki and four in Manoa Valley. “We have excellent relationships with our neighbors in both Kaimuki and Manoa and all of our homes are built for the safety and comfort of our residents,” said Dold.
Four Damon Key Attorneys Named “Lawyer of the Year”
September 14, 2012
Four Damon Key attorneys have been named as the “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective practice areas: Christine A, Kubota (Corporate Law), Gregory W. Kugle (Land Use & Zoning Law), Mark M. Murakami (Eminent Domain & Condemnation Law), Douglas C. Smith (Estate Planning & Taxation Law).
Congratulations! This is in addition to our other five lawyers who were named to the “Best Lawyers” and “SuperLawyers” lists.
Welcome to Bethany Ace
September 14, 2012
We’re pleased to announce that Bethany Ace has joined the firm. Ace is a member of the firm’s appellate practice, real estate and construction, and dispute resolution practice groups. Licensed since 2006, she has six years of litigation experience before the Hawaii State Courts and the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii “We are pleased to have Bethany join us and bring her litigation expertise to our firm,” said Damon Key Vice President Michael Yoshida. “Her years of experience and professionalism will be a valuable asset to our clients.”
Ace was born in Honolulu and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland before attending the University of Michigan for both her undergraduate and Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree with high distinction and honors in Psychology and has achieved numerous academic honors including the William J. Branstrom Freshman prize. She received her J.D. degree in two and a half years through Michigan’s accelerated program while also serving as a LexisNexis student representative.
More about Ms. Ace here.
Damon Key and Honolulu Museum of Art Partner on Law Film Series
September 14, 2012
In early September, we partnered with the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art to present “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Film All the Lawyers,” a five-film series about lawyers and the law. We screened the Hawaii premiere of the award-winning documentary Crime After Crime, and the series included other film such as the classic To Kill A Mockingbird. Each of the five films was presented by a Damon Key lawyer.
For more, see the Series’ web site, lawinfilm.com.
Land Use Cases of Interest
September 17, 2011
Here‘s a list of land use and related cases that are worth following, or that have been decided in the last year.
David McCauley Reports: Plenty of H-1B Visas Available
September 15, 2011
September 15, 2011
As of September 9, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports that only 32,200 petitions for H-1B visas have been received. The H-1B visa is a so-called “specialty occupation” visa that allows foreign nationals to work for American business in professional positions. A “professional” position is defined as one which requires, at a minimum, a four-year degree from a college or university. 65,000 new H-1B visas are available each year.
The start date for filing H-1B visa petitions is always April 1. We are now nearly six months beyond that date and have not yet reached the half-way mark, a clear indication that hiring by American employers has not picked up. In years gone by, the supply of H-1B visas would have been exhausted on April 1, the first day of filing. First-day demand has been as much as double or triple the number of visas actually available.
Not anymore. An additional 20,000 H-1B visas are available for individuals who have earned advanced degrees from U.S. colleges and universities. Interestingly, USCIS has received 16,700 H-1B petitions for individuals with advanced degrees. The fact that the 20,000 “advanced degree” H-1B visas will soon be used up hardly matters: advanced degree candidates can also tap into the more than 30,000 regular H-1B visas that will still be available. Although these visas were quickly used up in years gone by, H-1B visas will continue to be available for eligible foreign workers for the next few months.
Robert Thomas to Speak on Government Ethics at ABA Meeting
September 12, 2011
As part of the Fall Meeting of the ABA’s Section of State & Local Government Law in Tucson, on Thursday, September 22, Robert Thomas will be on a panel discussing the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Carrigan, “Conflict of Interest Restrictions After Carrigan: Legislative Voting and the First Amendment.”
More information here.
Damon Key Attorneys Author Chapters in ABA Eminent Domain Book
September 12, 2011
Damon Key attorneys contributed three chapters to a book on eminent domain law, recently published by the ABA, Eminent Domain - A Handbook of Condemnation Law (available for order here).
Robert H. Thomas authored chapters on “Prelitigation Process,” and “Flooding & Erosion,” and Mark M. Murakami and Christi-Anne H. Kudo Chock co-authored the chapter “Damages Resulting from a Taking: An Overview.”
More information here.
Follow Us On Facebook
September 12, 2011
We’ve launched our Facebook page.
Tred Eyerly on Faculty of Insurance Law Seminar
July 31, 2011
Tred Eyerly will be a co-presenter at an insurance seminar hosted by Sterling Education Services on August 18, 2011. The seminar is entitled “Insurance Bad Faith Claims.”
Tred will be speaking on development of the tort of bad faith and the elements of a bad faith case. Registration and additional Information is available here. Tred’s post on bad faith appears on Sterling’s website here. Tred follows insurance law issues closely on his blog, Insurance Law Hawaii.
Alert: GET Exemptions Suspended As Of July 1, 2011
July 04, 2011
Effective July 1, 2011, the Hawaii general excise and use tax exemption for certain persons and business activities is suspended by the recently signed Act 105. For a two-year suspension period running from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013, certain formerly exempt persons and business activities will be subject to the 4% general excise or use tax rate.
A grandfathering provision exists which may save some from losing the exemption, but it requires a written contract that does not allow the passing on of increases in tax rates. The contract must be binding and entered into before July 1, 2011.
You should review Hawaii Department of Taxation Announcements Nos. 2011-09 and 2011-10 (linked in the documents below) to determine whether you fall into one of the suspended categories. Prominent on the list are sublessors that deduct amounts paid to lessors from rental income received from sublessees and the “subcontractor’s deduction,” the anti-pyramiding relief available to contractors for amounts received from subcontractors.
James C. McWhinnie Receives Prestigious Grahovac Award
May 24, 2011
Meritas Law Firms Worldwide has announced that Honolulu attorney James C. McWhinnie is the recipient of the 2011 Grahovac Award. The award has been given only five times in the 21 year history of Meritas and recognizes outstanding service, leadership and dedication to the organization. McWhinnie, a director with Honolulu law firm of Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, received the award last week at the 2011 Meritas Annual Meeting held in Montreal, Canada.
“We are all very proud that Jim has been selected as the recipient of this award of great distinction within the global legal community,” said Michael Yoshida, Damon Key Vice President. “To be honored by Meritas, the organization that sets the bar for quality standards within our industry, speaks volumes for Jim’s commitment to professional excellence.” Meritas is an established global alliance of more than 170 independent, full-service and top-rated law firms in 73 countries with a total of more than 7,000 member attorneys. Firms become members of the Meritas worldwide alliance by invitation only, and only after agreeing to perform under the organization’s uniquely stringent and comprehensive Quality Assurance Program. Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert has been Hawaii’s exclusive Meritas member firm for more than 20 years.
McWhinnie has served a three-year term on the Meritas board of directors, two terms as a vice chair on Meritas’ Executive Committee, and two terms as the chair of Meritas’ Finance Committee. In addition, McWhinnie has played leadership roles in the Hawaii legal community, including active roles within the Hawaii State Bar Association and on the Hawaii Supreme Court’s Special Committee on Judicial Performance. His legal practice emphasizes civil litigation.
Other honors granted to McWhinnie throughout his career include his selection into The Best Lawyers of America and Hawaii’s Super Lawyers in the area of Commercial Litigation. He has also been rated “AV” (the highest available rating) by Martindale Hubbell for many years and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar cases).
Keeping Track of Rail
May 10, 2011
Honolulu rail, officially referred to as the “High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project,” will generate its share of legal issues over an anticipated eight year construction period, including eminent domain, construction and procurement, and environmental law. The attorneys at Damon Key have a depth of experience in these fields, and stand ready to assist you if you will be impacted by the rail.
The City has the power to take property by eminent domain, provided the taking is “for public use” and “just compensation” is paid to the owner. According to the June 2010 Final Environmental Impact Statement, the City will acquire 199 parcels (40 full, and 159 partial acquisitions), which will include relocation of 20 residences, 1 church and 66 businesses, and the City has identified these properties by TMK number in the FEIS, a copy of which is available at www.hawaiitransit.org.
The City asserts that only those properties identified in the FEIS will be acquired, and that property owners will be offered fair market value and relocation expenses, but whatever the City might promise, affected property owners should be proactive in determining the value of their land and businesses. The City estimates acquisitions will be completed by 2014 for no more than $248 million total, based on property tax assessment records (not fair market value). According to the Honolulu Board of Realtors, the median sale price of single family homes in March 2011 was $548,500. That amounts to about $11 million for residential acquisitions, or only 4% of the estimated budget for all acquisitions.
Every property and business owner who might be affected by the rail project should keep these points in mind:
The City must also comply with state environmental laws, including consideration of cultural and historical preservation. For example, the City has promised that detailed studies and decisions about burials and the displacement of hazardous materials will precede each of the four phases of construction. Property owners who might be affected by the project should closely follow the applicable comment periods for archaeological surveys, as well as rail-related developments and permits that require environmental review.
Recently, former Governor Ben Cayetano announced that he will spearhead a challenge to the rail project’s environmental review under federal law, even as the City defeated a state court lawsuit that challenged the FEIS under state burial laws. Under Hawaii law, burial sites are protected by a special review process culminating in an independent determination of whether remains should be preserved where they were discovered, or relocated. The plaintiff had challenged the City’s decision to look for burial sites on an ongoing basis, instead of conducting a comprehensive archaeological survey of all the areas in or around the proposed right-of-way before commencing any construction.
Specifically, she argued that the last phase of the transit corridor in Kakaako transects an area known to contain burial sites, and that postponing the survey until after the rail is almost finished will lead to pressure to relocate remains, instead of allowing for adjustments to the alignment. The City entered an agreement with the State Historical Preservation Division, however, that recognizes this and requires completion of the Kakaako archaeological survey to be completed before the design work for that phase is even begun. Consequently, the court concluded that phased review—with approval and continued oversight by SHPD—complied with Hawaii law. State burial law contains a very powerful tool—a “stop work” provision applicable to the “inadvertent” discovery of bones during construction – and SHPD has agreed to treat any and all discoveries as “previously identified,” which suggests that rail construction will be very difficult to stop once it has commenced.
Construction and Procurement
In addition to environmental challenges, the City is also facing lawsuits by contractors over the award of construction contracts pursuant to the State’s Procurement Code. By law, the government must follow a set procedure to award those contracts to ensure fairness and manage costs, among other things. (See “Bidding on Rail” by Matthew T. Evans).
Complex Land Transactions in Surrounding Areas
The legal landscape relating to land use in the areas surrounding the proposed path of the Rail Project will likely include complex land transactions, development agreements and other easements and leases never before utilized in Hawaii.
Attorneys specializing in rail-related issues include Kenneth R. Kupchak, Gregory W. Kugle, Anna H. Oshiro (construction and procurement), Robert H. Thomas, Mark M. Murakami, Tred R. Eyerly (insurance), Christi-Anne H. Kudo Chock and Matthew T. Evans.
Special Update as of March 11: Relief for Japanese and Other Nationals from the Pacific
March 14, 2011
This advisory is for Japanese and other foreign nationals from the Pacific stranded in the United States due to the earthquakes and tsunami devastation. If you have exceeded or are about to exceed your authorized stay in the U.S. you may be permitted up to an additional 30 days to depart.
Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
If you are at an airport, contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at the airport
All others, please visit the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office
Visitors traveling under a nonimmigrant visa:
Visit the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office
Bring your passport, evidence that you are stranded (such as an itinerary for the cancelled flight), and your I-94 departure record
For additional immigration relief options, please visit the Special Situations Web page.
Meeting the Mayor
March 08, 2011
In Carlisle talks about rail, budget woes, the Pacific Business News writes about the breakfast meeting with Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, sponsored by Damon Key:
The audience at a downtown business breakfast Tuesday learned a couple of things about Mayor Peter Carlisle: His middle name is Benson, and he unequivocally is enjoying his new job.
The former Honolulu prosecuting attorney was the guest speaker at a “Meet the Mayor” breakfast at the Plaza Club sponsored by the law firm Damon Key Leong Kupchak and Hastert. Carlisle has been mayor since October, after winning a special election to fill the remaining two years of Mufi Hannemann’s term.
Read the entire article here.
Anna Oshiro and Mark Murakami Noted in PBN Article “Verdict exposes contractors to liability risks”
February 08, 2011
Damon Key attorneys Anna Oshiro and Mark Murakami were quoted in the Pacific Business News article “Verdict exposes contractors to liability risks.”
A recent Hawaii appeals court decision has thrown into question whether contractors are covered by the insurance policies they purchase to protect themselves from liability for injuries and property damage arising from construction defects.
The decision by the state Intermediate Court of Appeals said “construction defect claims do not constitute an ‘occurrence’ under a [commercial general liability] policy.”
That means the commercial general liability insurance policies don’t provide coverage for construction defects, said Anna Oshiro, an attorney with Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, which was hired by the Hawaii General Contractors Association to try and intervene in the case.
Read the article here.
Greg Kugle To Speak To HSBA On Shoreline Issues (2/18/2011)
February 07, 2011
On Friday, February 18, 2011 from noon to 1:00 p.m., Greg Kugle will be speaking to the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Real Property and Financial Services Section on Shoreline Issues. Greg chairs the firm’s real estate and construction law practice group, and has been representing property owners on shorelines issues across the State of Hawaii for many years.
The presentation is free for HSBA members and will take place at the HSBA Confrerence Room, 1100 Alakea Street, Suite 1000. HSBA members from the neighbor islands can call in to a toll-free conference line (contact us for the instructions).
Damon Key Earns Recertification in Meritas, a Global Alliance of Business Law
February 07, 2011
The firm has been awarded recertification in Meritas, a global alliance of full service business law firms. Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert was invited to join Meritas in 1990, and as a condition of its membership, is required to successfully complete recertification every three
Meritas is the only law firm alliance with an established and comprehensive means of monitoring and enhancing the quality of its member firms—a process that saves clients time in validating law firm credentials and experience. Meritas membership is selective and by invitation only. Firms are regularly assessed and recertified for the breadth of their practice expertise and client satisfaction. The organization’s extensive due diligence process ensures that only firms meeting the tenets of Meritas’ Quality Assurance Program are allowed to maintain membership. Firm performance and quality feedback are reflected in a Satisfaction Index score, which is made available online.
“We are very proud of our firm’s achievements, and look forward to continuing our relationship with Meritas,” said James C. McWhinnie, Executive Committee Member and Director of the firm. “Meritas’ Quality Assurance Program is not just valuable for our clients seeking legal expertise around the world, it also provides us with a framework to consistently monitor and address the quality of the services we provide to our clients.”
Damon Key Welcomes New Associate
January 10, 2011
Damon Key welcomes our newest associate, Sara Mostafa-Ray! Fluent in Spanish and Arabic, Sara is part of our Immigration Practice Group and will also be working in Business and Commercial Transactions. She most recently served as the Immigration Outreach Specialist for Honolulu’s Domestic Violence Action Center. Additional information about Sara can be found here
Vermont Law Review Publishes Article on Beach Takings by Damon Key Attorneys
December 22, 2010
The Vermont Law Review has published an article authored by Damon Key attorneys Robert H. Thomas, Mark M. Murakami, and Tred Eyerly, Of Woodchucks and Prune Yards: A View of Judicial Takings From the Trenches, 35 Vt. L. Rev. 437 (2010).
The article is an essay with their thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Dep’t of Environmental Protection, No. 08-11 (June 17, 2010), the “judicial takings” case involving accretion rights and Florida’s “renourished” beaches. Robert, Mark, and Tred filed an amicus curiae brief in that case in support of the property owners.
The complete article is available here.
Damon Key To Sponsor 5th Hawaii Land Use Law Conference (Jan 13-14, 2011)
December 22, 2010
On January 13 and 14, 2011, The Seminar Group will be holding the 5th Hawaii Land Use Law Conference, in Honolulu, and Damon Key is the reception Sponsor. Damon Key attorney Robert Thomas will lead two sessions, on Coastal Issues, and Water Law. The conference is held every two years, so this is your chance to get updated on the hottest topics by a stellar faculty. More information, including the complete agenda, registration information (and registration discounts) is available here.
Damon Key Attorney Publishes Law Review Article on Eminent Domain
December 08, 2010
Robert Thomas, an attorney with the firm’s Land Use practice group, has published Recent Developments in Challenging the Right to Take in Eminent Domain in the latest volume of The Urban Lawyer, the law review published by the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law. In the article, which is available here, Thomas summarizes several of the recent court decisions on public use and public purpose. Download the article here.
Damon Key Featured in MidWeek: “Continuing Founders’ Legacy”
December 08, 2010
The December 8, 2010 edition of Midweek featured a story on the firm. “Continuing Founders’ Legacy” is about the early days of Damon Key, when Frank Damon and Henry Shigekane formed this unique law partnership. Read the whole story here.
Damon Key Attorneys Author ABA Article
August 04, 2010
Mark Murakami and Tred Eyerly‘s article, “Getting Around LHWCA’s Exclusion Remedy Roadblock - Injured Employee’s Claims Against Employer and Insurer for Intentional Torts,” was published in the July/August 2010 issued of Coverage, an ABA publication focusing on insurance coverage. Although an exclusive remedy provision under the Longshore Harbor and Workers Compensation Act bars actions against insurers for bad faith handling of claims, the article suggests pursuing intentional torts, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, may be appropriate remedies.
McWhinnie Reappointed to the Special Committee on Judicial Performance
May 11, 2010
Jim McWhinnie Featured in Pacific Business News Article
February 09, 2010
For the second year in a row, the number of civil lawsuits filed in Hawaii has jumped to a new high after what had been years of steady decline.
Attorney Jim McWhinnie is not surprised.
“Transactional attorneys who do real estate business deals, nonlitigation, they had noticed the economy slowing so the deals slow down,” said McWhinnie, a director and chairman of the litigation practice group at Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert. “There are people — who might normally not sue if they are seeing good buys and good projects — they sue when the economy’s tight because they’re tight for money.”
Read the complete article here.
Chris Kubota Featured in Hawaii Business Story “The Business of Love”
January 29, 2010
Here’s an excerpt:
More than 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce and Hawaii accounts for about 5,000 of those breakups every year. Of those who remain married, true love is not always the reason. That’s why relationship experts say it’s crucial to take time upfront to choose the right mate. Selecting a supportive partner who allows you to pursue your career and other goals could determine into which half of the nation’s couples you and your spouse fall.
The following pages describe how four successful couples met, fell in love and are making their lives – and romance – work, despite hectic schedules, demanding jobs and kids. A common thread: They’ve all mastered the power of negotiation.
The Attorney and Her House-husband
Christine Kubota says it was a long road to finding Mr. Right. When she hit her 30s and still hadn’t found “the one,” she decided to go to law school and focus on her career. She eventually met her future husband, Sadao Takahashi, through a mutual friend. They golfed on their first date and Kubota says that by the 19th puka, she was so hungry she devoured her entire entrée.
“(Sadao) is from Japan so I don’t think he had ever seen a woman eat like that,” Kubota says, laughing. “But for some reason, he said he was impressed because he knew I was a genuine person.” The couple met in November 1989, Takahashi proposed in February and they married a year-and-a-half later.
Read the complete story here.
Thomas to Speak to Government Lawyers on Land Use Exactions
January 08, 2010
On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, Damon Key attorney Robert Thomas will be speaking at a teleconference on land use exactions for members of the International Municipal Lawyers Association. He will be the guest of nationally-renown land use law experts Professor Dan Mandelker and attorney Dwight Merriam.
More information here.
Damon Key Attorney to Lead National Program on Constitutional Law
December 31, 2009
On February 25, 2010, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Eastern (12:30 CT, 11:30 a.m. MT, 10:30 PT, and 8:30 HST), Damon Key attorney Mark M. Murakami will be moderating a teleconference sponsored by the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law and the ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education: Beyond Gun Control: McDonald v. City of Chicago and Incorporation of the Bill of Rights.
In March 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in McDonald v. City of Chicago, a case asking whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause or the Due Process Clause makes the Second Amendment applicable to the states and local governments. It is shaping up to be one of the most important cases of the court’s term and it could usher in a new era in constitutional jurisprudence. The case has generated national media attention and overwhelming amicus participation. Each of our expert panelists joined an amicus brief in the case and will discuss the positions of the parties and amici, and will offer a preview of the oral arguments.
In addition to Mark, the faculty includes Michael Kent Curtis (Judge Donald L. Smith Professor in Constitutional and Public Law, Wake Forest University School of Law, Winston-Salem, NC, author of No State Shall Abridge: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights (1986)), Lawrence Rosenthal (Professor of Law, Chapman University School of Law, Orange, CA), and Ilya Shapiro (Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies and Editor-in-Chief, Cato Supreme Court Review, Cato Institute, Washington, DC).
The case is a challenge to a Chicago ordinance prohibiting possession of handguns in the home, but the issues at stake go far beyond the usual debate over gun control. The Supreme Court has been asked to overrule nearly 140 years of constitutional law and the selective incorporation doctrine. This CLE program discusses the issues in McDonald and the possible implications of the decision:
Damon Key Law Blogger Celebrates Second Anniversary
December 10, 2009
Tred Eyerly, who researches and publishes one of the nation’s leading blogs on insurance law—Insurance Law Hawaii—has celebrated his blog’s second anniversary.
Find out more here.
The firm’s three law blogs focus on property and land use, maritime and shoreline law, and insurance issues.
Kupchak, Oshiro, Eyerly Author Hawaii Real Estate Law Manual Chapters
November 16, 2009
Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert attorneys Kenneth R. Kupchak, director; Anna H. Oshiro, director; and Tred Eyerly, associate; co-authored the construction and bond chapters in the second volume of the Hawaii Real Estate Law Manual.
Kupchak presented on the land use chapter and, with Oshiro, on the construction and bond chapters at the Hawaii State Bar Association’s conference September 18.
The 750-page first volume of the Hawaii Real Estate Law Manual was updated to include new or edited chapters on: Hawaii and federal land use laws, county zoning, subdivision regulations, environmental considerations, design and construction contracts, bonds, affordable housing programs, condominium, timeshare, and community association legal developments.
Kupchak is a Fellow in the American College of Construction Lawyers, and has served on the governing committee of the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry. He was recognized in Best Lawyers in Hawaii in construction, mergers and acquisitions and commercial litigation.
Oshiro’s practice focuses on commercial litigation and construction litigation in particular. She is a contributing co-author to many books on construction law and is currently serving as associate editor of a national construction law quarterly publication.
Eyerly practices in commercial and construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment and dispute resolution.
FCC’s Proposed Internet Service Provider Rules Opposed by Sen. McCain
October 22, 2009
On October 22, the Federal Communications Commission proposed new “Net Neutrality” rules which would prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from intentionally blocking or slowing down Internet traffic. In response, Sen. John McCain (R – Ariz.) introduced the Internet Freedom Act of 2009, which would stop the FCC from putting the new rules in force, calling them a “government takeover of the Internet.”
The proposed rules would not allow ISPs to block users from running lawful applications or from sending and receiving lawful content. They could, however, deal with spam and other unwanted traffic, as well as illegal content such as child pornography. ISPs could not deprive users of competition from other service providers.
Homeland Security Recinds “Safe Harbor” Rule
October 22, 2009
On October 7, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded its so-called “safe harbor” rule that had specified the steps and timetable employers must follow when they receive a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or DHS advising them that the names of one or more employees do not match SSA records.
Under the safe harbor rules, and employer would have to fire an employee, or risk Federal fines and/or prosecution if the discrepancy could not be resolved within the limited “safe harbor” time period.
Although the “safe harbor” rules will now not go into effect, DHS advises employers who receive such letters to to check their own records for errors, inform the employee of the no-match letter, and ask the employee to review the information and allow employees a reasonable period of time to resolve the no-match with SSA.
Damon Key Director David McCauley is tracking this issue.
Damon Key Attorneys Prevail in Hawaii Supreme Court Election Case
October 20, 2009
On October 20, 2009, the Hawaii Supreme Court held that in order to register as a voter, a person must have a fixed habitation in the district in which he is attempting to register, as well as a “physical presence” there. The appeal concerned whether the State Board of Registration (County of Maui) correctly concluded that a Maui County councilperson who registered to vote as a Lanai resident is actually a resident of Maui. The unanimous court, in an opinion by Justice Mark Reckenwald, affirmed.
The court’s opinion is available here. Dupree v. Hiraga, No. 29646 (Haw., Oct. 20, 2009).
More about the case here.
Damon Key Law Blogger Enters Third Year
October 19, 2009
“Well, it was last week, but who is counting.
“Two years ago, following the very successful model of my partner Robert Thomas, I decided to become a blogger. Nearly 300 posts later, with topics ranging from Somali piracy, SONAR and whales, to Antarctic whaling and forum non conveniens, I still consider myself learning about society and its attempts to harness, regulate, use and protect our ocean resources.
“My day to day practice is more landbound dealing with land use and commercial disputes, but after my time in the Coast Guard, I don’t think my heart will ever be far from the sea. To my followers, thank you for following. I hope that my blog helps you keep track of the issues affecting the ocean and the maritime trade thereon.
“The photo is from a few years ago, supervising helicopter operations on board the Coast Guard Cutter CONFIDENCE.
More about the law blogs produced by the firm’s attorneys here.
Thomas to Speak at Small Business Hawaii
October 19, 2009
On Thursday, October 29, 2009, Damon Key attorney Robert Thomas will be speaking to Smart Business Hawaii (formerly Small Business Hawaii) at its monthly Sunrise Networking Breakfast. More details here.
Damon Key Attorneys File U.S. Supreme Court Brief
October 15, 2009
Damon Key attorneys Robert Thomas, Mark Murakami, and Tred Eyerly filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case involving Florida’s efforts to replace and “renourish” beaches. More about the case and the issues here.
In Walton County v. Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc., 998 So.2d 1102 (Fla. Sep. 29, 2008), the Florida Supreme Court held that a state statute which prohibits “beach renourishment” without a permit did not effect a taking of littoral (beachfront) property, even though it altered the long-standing rights of the owners to accretion on their land and direct access to the ocean.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether the Florida court’s reversal of more than 100 years of Florida law was a judicial taking, and whether the Florida court’s decision violated due process.
The brief is available here.
Insurance Law Hawaii Blog Gets Shout Out
October 14, 2009
The blogger was impressed with the clarity of Eyerly’s analysis of the Corban decision.
“SLABBED gives a hat tip to Tred Eyerly and a big THANK YOU, too.”
Thomas Heads ABA Condemnation Law Committee
October 13, 2009
At the recent American Bar Association annual meeting in Chicago, Damon Key director Robert H. Thomas was named Chair of the Condemnation Law Committee for the ABA’s Section of State and Local Government Law.
He takes over a national leadership role in the Committee, which deals with eminent domain, takings, and other property issues.
His blog, inversecondemation.com, is devoted to developments and commentary on regulatory takings, eminent domain, inverse condemnation, property rights, and Hawaii land use law.
Robert is also the Managing Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation Hawaii Center, a non-profit legal foundation dedicated to protecting property rights and individual liberties.
View the press release here.
“Corporate Counsel” Publication Sees Benefits of Meritas
September 17, 2009
Damon Key is Hawaii’s only Meritas member firm. The affiliation, explained in this Law.com Corporate Counsel publication, gives our firm a unique edge. “Hard times bring opportunities, and the network of small and midsize law firms called Meritas hopes that more general counsel come knocking as their companies look for ways to cut costs.” Download article
Hastert Nominated to Second Term on National Easter Seals Board
September 11, 2009
Diane Hastert, whose practice focuses on complex litigation and dispute resolution, has been nominated to a second term on the National Easter Seals Board of Directors. Hastert was a founding director of the Hawaii Easter Seals Foundation and has deep roots in civic and community service.
Kupchak, Oshiro Address State Bar Convention
September 11, 2009
Kenneth R. Kupchak and Anna Oshiro, firm directors, presented to the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Sept. 18 convention on construction and bond chapters of the Hawaii Real Estate Manual. Kupchak also presented on the land use chapter. Kupchak, Oshiro and firm associate Tred Eyerly co-authored the construction bond chapter of the Manual.
Kubota Addresses Business/Cultural Issues
July 08, 2009
At the Wahine in Hawaii Business Forum Christine Kubota, one of the firm’s directors, discussed the need for a basic understanding of cultural protocols when doing business on the international front. It was the second high-profile women’s conference convened by Hawaii Business Magazine.
Kubota was a panelist in the session ”Worldly Wise Women: International Business.” Copanelists were Bee Leng Chua with Hawaii Pacific University who focused on Singapore and Carla Kearns with TLI The Mandarin School who discussed business in China.
The experiences of women in international business vary from that of male counterparts. Kubota and the others burst stereotypes, provided perspective and in some cases produced chuckles. Kubota told attendees not to be surprised that guys in Japan get off elevators first; “eating and walking is bad; eating fast is good.” She said that as an attorney, she’s found that her gender didn’t hamper her abilities to do business in Japan; depth of knowledge was more important.
Kajikawa Named HSBA Leadership Institute Fellow
July 01, 2009
The Hawaii State Bar Association (HSBA) has named Courtney S. Kajikawa, a firm associate, as one of its 15 fellows of the inaugural class of the Leadership Institute. The fellows are spending six months interacting with members of the Hawaii bench, legislators, government officials, civic and business leaders.
Earlier this year, Kajikawa was named 2009 Chair of the HSBA Probate & Estate Planning section.
The goal of the Leadership Institute is to develop leaders in the legal profession who can excel in Hawaii’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural environment. Besides professional leadership, the Institute also stresses the importance of community leadership.
“Our members need to be well-equipped to face the challenges the legal profession faces in Hawaii’s diverse environment. The interactive program will enhance those skills essential for success, especially in a diverse community and challenging economy,” said Rai Saint Chu, president of HSBA.
The full text of the HSBA press release on the Institute is available here.
Kupchak, Hastert, McWhinnie and Smith “Best Lawyers”
July 01, 2009
Kenneth Kupchak, Diane Hastert, James McWhinnie and Douglas Smith have been named Best Lawyers of 2009 by the vote of their peers. The 2009 listing is based on more than 2.2 million evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers nationwide. The Hawaii list appears in Honolulu magazine.
The research firm of Woodward/White, publishers of The Best Lawyers in America, has conducted this research for the past 12 years to compile the list of the Best Lawyers in Hawaii.
As Best Lawyers explains, “Voting lawyers were provided this general guideline for determining if a nominee should be listed among “the best”: If you had a close friend or relative who needed a real estate lawyer (for example), and you could not handle the case yourself, to whom would you refer them? All votes and comments were solicited with a guarantee of confidentiality.
“Ultimately, a lawyer’s inclusion is based on the subjective judgments of his or her fellow attorneys. While it is true that the lists may at times disproportionately reward visibility or popularity, the breadth of the survey, the candor of the respondents and the sophistication of the polling methodology largely correct for any biases.”
Ken Kupchak, Diane Hastert and Jim McWhinnie have practices involving complex litigation. Doug Smith’s practice is in the area of estate planning.
Shin is one of Hawaii’s top Forty Under 40
June 17, 2009
Michelle Shin was selected as one of Pacific Business News’ Forty Under 40 in 2009. Awardees, all under the age of 40, are leaders in business and community service and must show a consistent “take charge” attitude, and show a high degree of business acumen and savvy business-like approaches to efficiency and change.
Beyond her legal expertise as a full-service transactional attorney, Shin’s understated approach builds a relationship of loyalty and respect as she provides sound, practical advice.
Her volunteerism extends through the arts, environment and legal activism. She volunteers with the ACLU and serves on the board of the Hawaii State Bar Association, Real Property and Financial Services Sections. She served as Secretary and Vice Chair of the Business Law Section.
She is a role model, especially to women lawyers and other women professionals. She advocates for those who cannot advocate for themselves.
One of the youngest Damon Key directors, Shin represents the progression of the firm in its transition from this generation of partners to the next.
Frank Damon presented O in Life Award
June 03, 2009
Frank Damon, a founding partner of the firm, was presented the O in Life Award, Punahou Alumni Association’s most prestigious award celebrating an individual who exemplifies the ideals of service to Punahou and the community.
Damon, a Hawaii-native, has been practicing law here since 1954. In the years following statehood, he served in Washington DC in the office of Hawaii Senator Hiram Fong, and then served in the state Cabinet as Director of Labor and Industrial Relations. He and Henry Shigekane founded what is now Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert in 1963.
Personally and professionally, Damon has fostered values grounded in justice, community service and education. He was an early proponent of interracial harmony in the islands and remains committed to that principle.
Doug Smith Named 2009 Elsine Katz Volunteer Leader of the Year
June 02, 2009
Doug Smith, a director and head of Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert’s Estate Planning practice, has been named the 2009 Elsine Katz Volunteer Leader of the Year by Goodwill Industries.
For 13 years Smith worked tirelessly to advance Goodwill Industries’ mission statewide. In particular, he is credited with leading the organization through a two-year $11 million capital campaign to secure five acres of land and build the Ohana Career and Learning Center to serve Leeward Oahu residents. His leadership also helped establish a first-of-its-kind NISH contract providing housing management services for the Army.
Through Smith’s tenure with Goodwill in Hawaii, the organization has grown in vision and scope. Revenues increased by 24 percent, the number of people served by nearly 33 percent, and the number of people placed through Goodwill’s services has nearly doubled. Smith continues to lead the board’s planning for expansion on other islands.
The annual award recognizes an outstanding volunteer leader who strengthens Goodwill programs and helps further the mission of the organization, and who demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities.
Smith has worked as a local volunteer board member since 1995, serving in many roles over the years. He joined the executive committee early on and has remained ever since, serving as Goodwill’s chairman of the board from July 2004-June 2007 and as chairman of the board for Goodwill Contract Services of Hawaii, a separate non-profit entity.
Smith accepted the prestigious award at the Goodwill Industries Delegate Assembly in June in Indianapolis.
Meritas Recertifies DKLKH as Exclusive Hawaii Affiliate
June 01, 2009
Meritas, a global alliance of top-rated business law firms, has recertified its sole Hawai`i affiliate, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert and has appointed Damon Key director James C. McWhinnie to serve a second term as its executive committee vice chair.
An international alliance of more than 170 independent business law firms located in more than 60 countries, encompassing more than 6,000 lawyers, Meritas firms deliver localized legal service of the highest quality on a fully coordinated basis.
“Damon Key has illustrated its continued commitment to client success, highest ethical standards, and industry expertise, which made certain its recertification with Meritas,” said Jean-Paul Bignon, Chairman of Meritas.
Meritas is the only law firm alliance with an established means of monitoring and enhancing the quality of its member firms. Meritas membership sets an elevated benchmark for client satisfaction and case expectations for clients, including in-house counsel.
“Our nearly 20-year Meritas affiliation has given, and continues to give, our clients and us unparalleled, global reach to legal expertise and local knowledge virtually anywhere such expertise and knowledge is needed,” said Jim McWhinnie, a director at Damon Key. “We’re pleased and excited to continue our valued affiliation with Meritas, which enables us to better serve our clients.”
Damon Key Attorneys Named as HSBA Chairs
February 11, 2009
DKLKH attorneys Greg W. Kugle, Mark M. Murakami and Courtney S. Kajikawa have been named 2009 Section Chairpersons of the Hawaii State Bar Association.
Kugle, a director of the firm, will chair the section on Real Property & Financial Services. Murakami, also a director, who heads the firm’s Maritime and Aviation Practice group, will co-chair the Admiralty section, and Kajikawa, an associate, will head the Probate & Estate Planning section.
Kugle concentrates his practice in the area of litigation, including commercial disputes, construction, land use, real estate, antitrust, product liability, personal injury, aviation, bankruptcy, admiralty and Native Hawaiian rights. He has litigated cases before the Hawaii Circuit Courts and the United States District Court, and has handled appeals before the Hawaii Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Besides heading the Maritime and Aviation Practice group, Murakami practices in the firm’s Business-Commercial Law, Dispute Resolution and Real Estate & Construction practice groups. Recently, Murakami filed a successful amicus brief before the Supreme Court of the United States in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council on behalf of nine retired Navy admirals, the Navy League of the United States—Honolulu Council, and a coalition of military service organizations. Murakami’s blog, http://www.Hawaiioceanlaw.com covers legal issues relating to the ocean and its maritime use in and around Hawaii, Oceania and beyond.
Kajikawa practices in the firm’s Business and Commercial, Estate Planning, and Immigration Practice Groups. A graduate of Occidental College, Kajikawa volunteers her time with the Occidental College Alumni Association, the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the YWCA. Kajikawa has clerked for the Honorable Colleen K. Hirai, Chief Judge of the First Circuit and the current Probate Judge.