The lawsuits included a fatal police shooting case and the city’s effort to seize property in Waikiki for affordable housing.

The City and County of Honolulu has tentatively agreed to pay more than $3.8 million to the owner of a dilapidated property in Waikiki after previous negotiations to secure the land for affordable senior housing failed.

That is the most expensive of three settlement agreements that will go before the City Council for a vote on Wednesday.

Another involved $1.25 million for the family of 27-year-old Dana Brown, who was killed in a police shooting following an attempted traffic stop in 2019. The third involved $55,000 for a dysfunctional sewer line.

If approved by the council, the settlement payouts would add up to the largest since February when members signed off on a $4.5 million settlement over the Makaha police pursuit that ended in a crash that injured six people.

Interior view of Honolulu Hale in 2022.
This month’s settlements against the city include more than $5 million worth of claims. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

Because the legislative branch is in charge of allocating taxpayer money, it is routine for council members to vote each month on whether to approve legal settlements against the city. 

In March, council members voted to approve about $3.3 million in settlements, which included a $2.85 million settlement against former deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha. She and her husband, former police chief Louis Kealoha, had framed her uncle for stealing a mailbox, a defining example of police corruption in Hawaii.

The nine-member council approved about $140,000 in settlements each in July and August. In January and June, that amount was $0.

Brown’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu after a police officer shot and killed the 27-year-old who had allegedly been driving recklessly on a scooter on Dec. 17, 2019.

Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm announced last year that no charges would be filed against the officer involved, saying the officer’s body camera footage and witness statements showed the use of force was justified.

However, the city has agreed to settle the family’s lawsuit for $1.25 million if approved by the council.

This is a separate matter from Alm’s investigation, which involved a question of whether the officer could be found criminally liable for the shooting as opposed to civil liability. 

Dana Brown
Dana Brown died of a gunshot wound to the torso by an HPD officer on Dec. 17, 2019. (Hawaii News Now)

The largest amount at stake on Wednesday is for an eminent domain case in which the city condemned the Waikiki property belonging to Norman Kwock Keong Nip with plans to repurpose it as affordable senior housing.

The condemnation process followed years of failed negotiations by the city to acquire the property at 1615 Ala Wai Blvd., and it had support from the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported in 2022.

The settlement amount was originally proposed at $3.044 million and after mediation ended up about $800,000 higher.

Keong Nip couldn’t be reached for comment.

The third settlement is in regards to a dysfunctional sewer line. The city agreed to pay Kahala resident Robert Marvits for damages suffered from a sewer backup that infiltrated his house and spat onto his floor.

Reached by phone, Marvits, a retired doctor, explained the situation, using the medical term for a heart attack.

“The main sewer pipe in the street had a myocardial infarction,” he said. 

His neighbors’ homes had been relatively spared, he said, adding that he is still working on getting assistance to pay for a new floor.

“The usual City and County failed infrastructure,” he said.

Through spokesman Scott Humber, the city’s top lawyer declined to comment on the cases pending final resolution of the litigation.

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