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Ozaki v. Association of Apartment Owners of Discovery Bay

Supreme Court of Hawai’i
954 P.2d 644 (1998)


Cynthia Dennis lived in the Discovery Bay condominium complex (defendant). Peter Sataraka (defendant) convinced the Discovery Bay security guard to let him into the complex. While inside the complex, Sataraka followed Dennis into her apartment and killed her. A jury convicted Sataraka of murder. Dennis’s mother and sister (plaintiffs) brought suit against Discovery Bay and Sataraka. A jury found that Discovery Bay’s and Dennis’s negligence contributed to Dennis’s death. The jury apportioned 92 percent of the fault to Sataraka’s intentional conduct, five percent to Dennis’s negligent conduct, and three percent to Discovery Bay’s negligent conduct. Discovery Bay moved for entry of final judgment in its favor based on a contributory-negligence state law stating that if the negligence apportioned to the victim was greater than the negligence of the defendant(s), judgment would be entered for the defendant(s). The court of appeals reversed, holding Discovery Bay jointly and severally liable for 95 percent of the fault. The court of appeals held that the state law applied only in cases based entirely in negligence. Because of Sataraka’s intentional tort in this case, the court of appeals found the state law shielding Discovery Bay from liability to be inapplicable, thus invoking the state’s pure-comparative-negligence standard. The Supreme Court of Hawai’i granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Levinson, J.)

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