Case over teen swept to sea to stay in HI
By OSKAR GARCIA
HONOLULU — A wrongful death and negligence lawsuit for the family of a New York teen swept to sea during an excursion on the Big Island will stay in Hawaii, a federal judge in Honolulu has ruled.
Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway said in an order filed Thursday that moving the case would deprive the family of 15-year-old Tyler Madoff a meaningful day in court.
The companies being sued by Madoff’s father pushed for changing courts to Jefferson County in Colorado because of an online agreement signed by Madoff’s mother when the trip was originally set up. The adventure company that arranged the trip is Bold Earth Teen Adventures, which is based in Golden, Colo.
Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are Hawaii Pack and Paddle, the local tour company that led the excursion, and a tour guide.
Mollway said moving the case would make it difficult for lawyers for the Madoff family to bring witnesses to testify at trial in person, including first responders, search and rescue personnel, state officials and other hiking and kayaking tour operators in Hawaii.
Even if witnesses agreed to travel to Colorado to testify at trial, they could change their minds or run into work or family conflicts and the Madoffs would have no way to obligate them to go to court, Mollway said. That would mean the family’s lawyers would have to present the majority of their case through video conferencing and taped depositions, the judge said.
“These circumstances would impair the effectiveness of any presentation, no matter how dazzling counsel might be,” Mollway said in her order.
“The court assumes that a Colorado trial would take advantage of all the bells and whistles that technology makes available to advocates today. But this court is far from alone in recognizing that technology is not yet able to replicate a person’s physical presence.”
The teen’s body hasn’t been found since he was swept of the west coast of the island during a hiking portion of a kayak expedition.
Authorities said at the time of the incident that the group stopped to rest at a tide pool when large waves hit and took Madoff away.
According to the lawsuit, the teens were in an area with dangerous surf warnings that’s not permitted by the state.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.