Earlier this month, an appellate court in Hawaii issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by the occupants of a vehicle that was struck by rocks that fell onto the highway during a rock slide.
The plaintiffs were driving on a Hawaii highway when a rock slide occurred, and debris contained in the slide struck their vehicle. At the time, Hawaii had a system to rate various roads that are at risk of being affected by rock slides. The area where the plaintiffs were injured was known as an area with the highest risk level. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that the government was negligent in failing to address the area and implement measures to prevent a slide from occurring.
The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the government, finding that while the government was negligent, the government’s negligence was not the cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries. The court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to show that had the government taken action, the slide would have been prevented. The court also determined that the government was entitled to immunity because the decision to have a rock-slide mitigation system was a discretionary one. The plaintiff appealed.