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Makers of the Prescription Drug that Treats Opioid Addiction Sued for Antitrust Practices

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin and 35 other attorneys general today filed an antitrust lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction, over allegations that the companies engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and cause purchasers to pay artificially high prices.

suboxoneSuboxone is a brand-name prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction and other opioid addictions by easing addiction cravings. No generic alternative of the film is currently available.

Attorney General Chin said, “Helping addicts recover from the deadly effects of opioids is a top priority here and in other states. This week I had commented on the legal authority in Hawaii to prescribe Suboxone for the purpose of opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. Unfortunately, the makers of this drug have capitalized on this serious public health crisis and raked in huge corporate profits.”

Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, now known as Indivior, is accused of conspiring with MonoSol Rx to switch Suboxone from a tablet version to a film (that dissolves in the mouth) in order to prevent or delay generic alternatives and maintain monopoly profits. The companies are accused of violating state and federal antitrust laws.

According to the lawsuit, when Reckitt introduced Suboxone in 2002 (in tablet form), it had exclusivity protection that lasted for seven years, meaning no generic version could enter the market during that time. Before that period ended, however, Reckitt worked with MonoSol to create a new version of Suboxone – a dissolvable film, similar in size to a breath strip. Over time, Reckitt allegedly converted the market away from the tablet to the film through marketing, price adjustments, and other methods. Ultimately, after the majority of Suboxone prescriptions were written for the film, Reckitt removed the tablet from the U.S. market.

The attorneys general allege that this conduct was illegal “product hopping,” where a company makes modest changes to its product to extend patent protections so other companies can’t enter the market and offer cheaper generic alternatives. According to the suit, the Suboxone film provided no real benefit over the tablet and Reckitt continued to sell the tablets in other countries even after removing them from the U.S. market. Reckitt also allegedly expressed unfounded safety concerns about the tablet version and intentionally delayed FDA approval of generic versions of Suboxone.

As a result, the attorneys general allege that consumers and purchasers have paid artificially high monopoly prices since late 2009, when generic alternatives of Suboxone might otherwise have become available. During that time, annual sales of Suboxone topped $1 billion.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania, accuses the companies of violating the federal Sherman Act and state laws. Counts include conspiracy to monopolize and illegal restraint of trade. In the suit, the attorneys general ask the court to stop the companies from engaging in anticompetitive conduct, to restore competition, and to order appropriate relief for consumers and the states, plus costs and fees.

Attorneys general of the following jurisdictions joined in the lawsuit:  Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Hawaii Innocence Project Event Will Test Reliability of Eyewitness Identification

Could you be a reliable eyewitness? Want to test your skills with some expert attorneys?

eyewitnees-identification

On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, in recognition of “International Wrongful Conviction Day,” the Hawai‘i Innocence Project will challenge audience members to see how well they can identify a possible suspect in a mock exercise at the UH Law School.

The program, titled “Eyewitness Identification,” is scheduled from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. in Classroom 2.  Lunch is available in the courtyard; donations are welcome.  Similar programs are taking place across the nation and around the world.

“Eyewitness Identification” aims to demonstrate pitfalls in the standard technique that has been used in courtrooms for decades. Documentation has begun to show that faulty eyewitness identification accounts for as much as 75 percent of all wrongful convictions, according to Innocence Project data.

The Hawai‘i Innocence Project is run by faculty members at the William S. Richardson School of Law, with assistance from community attorneys. In 2011, using advanced DNA testing technology, the Hawai‘i project succeeded in having Alvin Francis Jardine exonerated after he spent almost 20 years in prison for a rape and burglary he consistently maintained that he did not commit. The national organization has freed several hundred wrongly incarcerated people by using advanced DNA testing.

As part of the national Innocence Project network, Faculty Specialist Kenneth Lawson and Associate Dean Ronette Kawakami head the project and work with other attorneys on cases in Hawai‘i.  Said Law Dean Avi Soifer, “Our faculty and students, along with our cooperating attorneys, deserve great admiration for their passionate, tireless work to free those who have been unjustly imprisoned.”

The October 4 program will help show just how fallible eyewitness testimony can be.

HPD Officers, Civilians Honored During Ceremony

Thirty-four police officers and six civilian employees are moving up the ranks in the Honolulu Police Department. They were honored today during a recognition ceremony at the Ala Moana Beach Park’s McCoy Pavilion Auditorium.
hpd-honored
Promoted to the rank of major is Ryan Nishibun. He is a 27-year veteran and will command the Human Resources Division. His earlier assignments were in District 1 (Central Honolulu), District 5 (Kalihi), and the Traffic Division. Immediately prior to his promotion, he was the executive officer for the Human Resources Division.

Promoted to the rank of captain are Stephen Silva Jr. and Roland Turner. Silva, a 24-year veteran, was a lieutenant in District 1 and will be assigned to District 5. Turner, who has 19 years of experience, was a lieutenant in District 5 and will go to the Finance Division.

The new lieutenants include:
Rommel Baysa, District 8 (Kapolei/Waianae)
Shellie Paiva, District 1
Scott Vierra, District 5

The new sergeants include:
Robert Canady, District 1
Everett Higa, District 7 (East Honolulu)
Wyllie Lum Jr., District 1
Kevin Takehara, District 5

The new detectives include:
Thomas Chang, Professional Standards Office
Jonathan Locey, Criminal Investigation Division
Andrew Maddock, Information Technology Division
Kalae Phillips, Criminal Investigation Division
James Shyer, Criminal Investigation Division

The new corporals include:
Keli Ah-Hoy, District 1
Christopher Bugarin, District 3 (Aiea/Pearl City/Waipahu)
Patrick Bugarin, District 8
William Daubner, District 5
Christel Davis, District 8
Michael Dela Cruz, District 5
Jason Hendricks, District 8
Celestino Herana Jr., District 2 (Mililani/Wahiawa)
Woo Kang, District 5
Mark Kealoha, District 3
Vernon Kleinschmidt, District 5
Rowney Martinez, District 1
Billy Masaniai, District 2
Tyler Medeiros, Criminal Investigation Division
Jacob Miyashiro, Traffic Division
Joseph O’Neal, District 5
Marvin Parengit, District 1
Adam Schonhardt, District 5
David Young, District 2

The six civilians include:

  • Amber Alarcon, Police Radio Dispatcher 1, Communications Division
  • Adelaida Domingo, Senior Police Documents Clerk, Records and Identification Division
  • Lorna Eugenio, Police Documents Clerk, Professional Standards Office
  • Bradly Hirata, 911 Emergency Response Operator III, Communications Division
  • Richard Perron, Police Evidence Specialist III, Scientific Investigation Section
  • Wanda Wallis, Senior Account Clerk, Finance Division

 

Hawaii Attorney General Statement Regarding Suboxone Prescription for Opioid Detoxification

In light of recent inquiries regarding physicians’ legal authority to prescribe the drug Suboxone for the purpose of opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence, Attorney General Doug Chin today issued the following statement:

“Last week the state Narcotics Enforcement Division was asked whether a doctor may prescribe the drug Suboxone for opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. NED subsequently asked the Department of the Attorney General to review the relevant statute to determine how the law should be interpreted and applied. Our analysis has concluded that current portions of section 329-38 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes can be interpreted in more than one way, but within the context of the entire section, the existing practice of doctors who prescribe Suboxone for the purpose of opioid detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid dependence may continue. It may be appropriate to clarify this statute during the next legislative session.”

suboxoneSuboxone is a prescription medicine that contains the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat adults who are addicted to opioids.

Big Island Church Burglarized

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking the public for help with information about a burglary at a church on Kupulau Road in Hilo.
new-hope-hilo-sign

Sometime between 11:00 a.m Sunday (September 18) and 7:00 a.m. Monday (September 19), unknown persons broke into the New Hope Christian Fellowship and removed miscellaneous tools and equipment.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to contact Officer Lisa Ebesugawa or Officer Chuck Cobile at 961-2213 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Dept. of Education Reminds Parents to Secure Vehicles in School Parking Lots

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) reminds parents to always secure their vehicles in school parking lots to prevent thefts.  Five vehicle break-ins using similar methods of entry have occurred at East Oahu public schools in September during after-school hours.  In each case, vehicle windows were broken and small items inside were stolen, including purses, bags, cell phones and laptop computers.

break-in

“Parents are reminded to be vigilant and always remove valuables or hide them from direct sight,”said HIDOE spokesperson Donalyn Dela Cruz.  “Although there is normally lots of activity on campuses during afterschool hours, such crimes of opportunity can take place in seconds, especially when valuables are left in plain sight.”

Parents can take actions to make their vehicle less attractive to property theft, including avoiding leaving valuables inside in open view, locking valuables in the trunk and installing anti-theft alarm systems.  Bags, such as backpacks and shopping bags, may be seen as a carrier of valuables by thieves and should be hidden from view.

Honolulu District Court Users May Experience Delays in Accessing Building Elevators

Two of the four elevators at the Honolulu District Court building (1111 Alakea Street, Honolulu, HI, 96813) are temporarily out of service.  One of the elevators is being repaired locally, and the other elevator will require parts from the mainland.  We apologize for the inconvenience and ask for your patience as we work to make these repairs as soon as possible.

Court users are being asked to please anticipate and plan for delays when entering and exiting the building.  When exiting the building, there are also public escalators available descending from the fourth floor to the first floor.  There are also public stairwells available when exiting the building.

Court matters handled at this busy courthouse include small claims and regular claims cases, landlord-tenant disputes, traffic cases, and misdemeanors. The facility also houses two circuit court divisions handling domestic violence jury trials.

elevators

Hawaii DLNR Shares Concerns Over Reports of Sub-Standard Living Conditions on Certain Longline Fishing Vessels

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is aware of media reports regarding living and working conditions on longline fishing vessels that bring catches into Hawai‘i ports. DLNR’S area of responsibility is limited to the ministerial task of issuing commercial fishing licenses to qualified applicants.

dlnr“The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), issues licenses to individual fishermen engaged in commercial catch.  DAR continues to follow long-established statutory and administrative rules which require commercial marine licenses for the taking of marine life and landing it in the state for commercial purposes,” explained DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.  The rules regarding Hawai‘i commercial marine licenses can be found in Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS-189-2 and HRS-189-5).

“We are naturally concerned about press reports pertaining to on-board living conditions, pay disparity and the issue of involuntary labor, and applaud the longline fishing industry for the efforts it is taking to resolve these issues,” Case added.  “Further we are happy to engage with any stakeholders, including lawmakers, commercial fishing interests, and other regulatory agencies, in explaining the current laws and regulations pertaining to licensing of commercial longline fishers and in exploring any legislative or administrative rule changes,” Case said. “While our jurisdiction only extends to the protection of natural resources, we are certainly very concerned about any human rights violations that are reportedly occurring on the longline fishing fleet, and stand ready to assist in any way possible,” she concluded.

30-Year-Old Kona Woman Dies in Three-Vehicle Crash

A 30-year-old woman died from a three-vehicle traffic crash Thursday evening (September 15) in North Kona near the 28.5 mile marker of Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Route 190).

sarah-thurber

She has been identified as Sarah Thurber of Kailua-Kona.

Responding to a 9:26 p.m. call, police determined that Thurber had been traveling north on the Hawaiʻi Belt Road in a 2007 Kia sedan when the car crossed the centerline of the highway and crashed head-on into a 2016 Jeep SUV traveling south and operated by a 50-year-old California woman. The collision caused the Jeep to spin and collide with a 2016 Hyundai SUV, also traveling south, which was being operated by a 49-year-old Nevada woman.

The driver and passenger of the Jeep were taken to Kona Community Hospital, where they both are listed in stable condition.

The driver and passenger of the Hyundai were not injured.

Thurber was taken to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m. Friday (September 16).

It was not immediately known if speed or alcohol were factors in the crash.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation. Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646, extension 229. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the 21st traffic fatality this year compared with 15 at this time last year.

Man Who Posted to Facebook Live Fleeing Police Charged with 6 Traffic Offenses

A 30-year-old man who was arrested Tuesday (September 13) on suspicion of sexual assault and traffic offenses has been charged with six traffic offenses for an incident in Kona on September 8.

Joshua Corbin

Joshua Corbin

At 9:35 a.m. Thursday, Joshua Michael Corbin, who has no permanent address but frequents the Ocean View area, was charged with reckless driving, failure to obey a police officer, fraudulent use of a license plate, resisting an order to stop, driving without no-fault insurance and driving without a license. He was released from police custody after posting $4,500 bail. His initial court appearance has been scheduled for October 20 in Kona District Court.

Detectives from the Juvenile Aid Section, which is responsible for investigating sexual assaults, are continuing the sexual assault investigation.

Kona Crime Prevention Committee Recognizes Officer Foxworthy as “Officer of the Year”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Jason Foxworthy as “Officer of the Year” in a luncheon ceremony Wednesday (September 14) at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Jason Foxworthy

Officer Jason Foxworthy

Foxworthy was honored for an investigation into an auto theft. On January 16, Foxworthy and a recruit he was training, Officer Dayson Taniguchi, were assigned to a vehicle theft at a shopping center in Kona. Through interviews of possible witnesses, they identified a suspect. When they located the suspect, he had drug paraphernalia and brass knuckles in his possession. After his arrest, detectives recovered the stolen vehicle, along with 2.4 grams of crystal methamphetamine.

Also in January, Foxworthy and Taniguchi investigated 36 incidents, three traffic accidents and 50 miscellaneous public complaints. They made 14 adult arrests and issued 57 traffic citations.

Foxworthy received an “Officer of the Month” award in March for the same investigation.

Also honored at Friday’s ceremony were the other “Officer of the Month” recipients over the past year, who stood on the stage when the “Officer of the Year” was announced: Officer Darren Cho, Officer Marco Segobia, Officer Kaea Sugata, Officer Brandon Mansur, Officer Bradden Kimura, Officer Peter Tourigny, Officer Nicholas McDaniel, Officer Officer Brian Beckwith, Officer Mike Thompson and Officer Wyattlane Nahale.

“I’m extremely shocked and surprised,” Foxworthy said when accepting his award. “Everyone up here deserves this.”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaiʻi.

Hawaii Senate Confirms District Court Judges

The Hawai‘i State Senate today unanimously confirmed Dakota K.M. Frenz to the District Family Court of the Third Circuit – Island of Hawai‘i and Michael K. Soong to the District Court of the Fifth Circuit – Island of Kaua‘i.

Dakota K.M. Frenz was most recently a sole proprietor of her own private law practice in Hilo specializing in criminal law, family law, and civil litigation/collections.

Photo courtesy: Hawai‘i Senate Communications

Photo courtesy: Hawai‘i Senate Communications

Prior to opening her own law practice, Frenz was a partner at Laubach & Frenz, AAL, LLC, where she focused her legal practice in the same areas of law.  Prior to entering private practice, Frenz served as deputy prosecuting attorney in the County of Hawai‘i where she handled cases in the District, Family, and Circuit Courts. In addition to her legal experience, she serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, a member of the Board of Directors of the Hawai‘i County Bar Association, an arbitrator with the Court Annexed Arbitration Program, a member of the County of Hawai‘i Bench Bar Committee and Hawai‘i State Bench Bar Committee. She also volunteers with the Friends of Drug Court and the Self-Help Center in East Hawai‘i.  Frenz is a graduate of Whittier Law School and was admitted to the Hawai‘i State Bar in 2006.

Frenz fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Lloyd X. Van De Car.

“Ms. Frenz bring to the bench a reputation as an intelligent, hard-working and prepared advocate with substantial trial experience as a former county prosecutor and more recently as a private attorney,” said Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “Her background and what people say about her makes it likely that she will be a very good addition to the District Family Court, one of the most challenging assignments for a Hawai‘i jurist.”

Michael K. Soong has nearly 30 years of trial experience and has been in private practice since 2009 focusing on criminal law, personal injury and plaintiff litigation.

Photo courtesy: Hawai‘i Senate Communications

Photo courtesy: Hawai‘i Senate Communications

His work in the public sector includes being elected to two-consecutive terms as Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Kaua‘i. Prior to his tenure as the Prosecuting Attorney, he served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Kaua‘i, a Deputy Public Defender, and Deputy Corporation Counsel. Soong serves as a Board member of the Friends of the Kaua‘i Drug Court, and is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He also currently serves on the Royal Order of Kamehameha, Kaumuali‘i Chapter, Hokule‘a-Kaua‘i Crew member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and member of Na Kalai Wa‘a ‘O Kaua‘i. Soong is a graduate of Southwestern University School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1986.

Soong will fill the vacancy due to the retirement of Judge Trudy K.T. Senda in December.

“Mr. Soong’s successful tenure as Prosecuting Attorney and private practice speaks well for his work, but he also stands out for his reputation of being fair, hard-working and having compassion for the less fortunate in our community,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran. “His knowledge of the law, commitment to the Kaua‘i community, and his character and even-keeled demeanor promise that Mr. Soong will be a very good addition to the District Court, the forum where most Hawai‘i residents will likely encounter the legal system.”

The term of office for both judgeships is for six years.

Big Island Police Arrest Man Wanted in Texas on Sex Assaults & Traffic Incidents

Hawaiʻi Island police have located 30-year-old Joshua Corbin, who was wanted for sexual assault and traffic incidents.

He was arrested in Hilo at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday (September 13). He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Juvenile Aid Section, which is responsible for investigating sexual assaults, continue the investigation.

corbin

Big Island Police Searching for 16-Year-Old Kona Boy Missing Since May

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 16-year-old Kona boy who was reported missing.

Santiago Santana was last seen in Kailua-Kona on May 5.

He is described as 5-foot-3, 120 pounds with brown eyes and black hair.  (No image was released)

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300.

Lawmaker Ing Calls for AG Opinion on Fishing Vessel Controversy, Seeks Injunction

Representative Kaniela Ing, Chairperson of the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs today sent a letter to Attorney General Douglas Chin requesting an opinion on the alleged unfair labor and business practices conducted outside Piers 17 and 38 at Honolulu Harbor.

Click to read allegations

Click to read allegations

“I am extremely alarmed by recent reports of the gross mistreatment of workers aboard American fishing vessels right here in our Aloha State,” Ing said. “If these investigations hold any validity, we must act swiftly to end any human rights violations occurring on our docks.”

Ing believes that, while the fishing vessels operate in federal waters in accordance to federal law, vessel operators conduct business under a license with the State of Hawaii, therefore subjecting them to State regulation. Ing’s letter asks whether “the (reported) acts…constitute a restraint of trade or other anti-competitive practices prohibited by HRS§480-13.”

Ing explains: “the first step is requesting an Attorney General’s opinion, which he is required to publish under a legislator’s request. An affirmative answer will likely lead to an injunction that will halt any labor or business violations. A non-affirmative answer illuminates the need for bill that clarifies our ‘anti-competitive practices’ statute, which I am committed to pursue”

Ing believes this issue highlights a larger issue of the abuse of undocumented workers.

“Without any legal recourse, millions of undocumented workers suffer through starvation wages and inhumane work environments across America,” Ing said. “It’s an issue too often ignored by mainstream politics. We can all agree that any abuse of any human being has no place in our Aloha State. These investigations reveal why we must act now.”

Hawaii Senate to Hold Special Session to Consider and Confirm Judicial Appointments

A Special Session of the Hawai‘i State Senate will be held from September 13, 2016 through September 14, 2016 to confirm two judicial appointments, one for the District Family Court of the Third Circuit – Hawai‘i Island and one for the District Court of the Fifth Circuit – Kaua‘i

Dakota K.M. Frenz

Dakota K.M. Frenz

On September 2, 2016, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald appointed Dakota K.M. Frenz to the District Family Court of the Third Circuit and Michael K. Soong to the District Court of the Fifth Circuit. To fill the District Court vacancies, the Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court selects an appointee from a list of not less than six nominees submitted by the Judicial Selection Committee.

Pursuant to Hawai‘i State Constitution, Article IV, Section 3, the Senate has 30 days from the date of the appointment to consider and confirm the judgeships. Therefore, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor will hold a hearing on the appointments on Monday, September 12, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. in Conference Room 325. The Senate will convene for the first day of the Special Session at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 in the State Capitol Auditorium. The second-day of Session is scheduled begin at 11:00 a.m. and adjourn following action by the full Senate on Wednesday, September 14, 2016.

EPA Requires Mid Pac Petroleum to Install Air Pollution Controls at Big Island Facility

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement valued at more than $600,000 with Mid Pac Petroleum, LLC, resolving federal Clean Air Act violations at the company’s Kawaihae facility on the Island of Hawaii.

mid-pac-petroleum

EPA claimed that for more than a decade Mid Pac Petroleum failed to install required vapor pollution controls and comply with a volatile organic compound (VOC) pollution limit at its gasoline storage facility. Failure to limit these emissions led to the illegal discharge of about 20 tons of VOCs into the air each year from its gasoline loading equipment. Mid Pac Petroleum will now spend an estimated $432,000 to bring its facility into compliance with the law, and has agreed to pay a $200,000 civil penalty.

“This is EPA’s second settlement in the past year that will improve air quality on the Island of Hawaii,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.  “As with Aloha Petroleum’s facility in Hilo, we are requiring Mid Pac Petroleum to install air pollution controls, cutting health risks to local residents.”

Bulk gasoline terminals are large storage tank facilities where gasoline is pumped through a loading rack into tanker trucks for distribution to gasoline service stations. Vapors containing VOCs and hazardous air pollutants, including benzene, a known human carcinogen, can leak from storage tanks, pipes, and tanker trucks as they are loaded.

For more information please visit: http://www3.epa.gov/ozonepollution/

Jury Finds No Civil Rights Violation by State of Hawaii or NFL in 2013 Pro Bowl Incident

A Hawaii federal jury late this afternoon found no liability against the State of Hawaii or the National Football League (NFL) after Aloha Stadium staff at the 2013 Pro Bowl stopped a woman with a physical disability from getting to her front row seat and the NFL provided her with wheelchair access seating instead, Attorney General Doug Chin announced.

pro-bowl

Deb Ritchie sued the State and the NFL for discrimination based upon her disability and for civil rights violations. During the trial, evidence indicated Ritchie wrote to the NFL before the game claiming she could not get to her ticketed front row seat and asking for field access. Her request for field access was denied due to security and safety concerns. On the day of the Pro Bowl, Ritchie arrived in a wheelchair and with crutches but nevertheless claimed she could reach her seat.  Aloha Stadium staff stopped Ritchie from descending sixty steps to get to her seat because she appeared unsteady on her feet and therefore a danger to herself and to others in the event of an evacuation.  Ritchie watched the game from a wheelchair access row.

Today’s verdict clears the State and NFL of all liability in this case. A previous trial in 2015 ended in a mistrial after the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. Federal district judge J. Michael Seabright presided over both trials.

Hawai’i Interagency Biosecurity Plan Formed to Protect Environment, Agriculture, Economy and Health

Hawai‘i is at an invasive species crossroads: the islands are home to more endangered species than any other state. Between 80-90% of all food is imported, and there are more than 8 million visitors annually, with hundreds of arriving flights and ships carrying cargo.

All images courtesy Hawaii DLNR

All images courtesy Hawaii DLNR

Residents of Hawai‘i know that its environment and way of life are special. Many of the native plants and animals exist nowhere else in the world, and the ability to grow food locally and be connected to the land is critical to maintaining an island identity. As invasive species continue to arrive in Hawai‘i and spread through the islands, the environment, agriculture, economy, and even human health are at risk.  Coqui frogs, fire ants, albizia, and mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and Zika virus provide recent examples of impacts to Hawai‘i.  Broad, comprehensive strategies are needed to protect our economy, environment and way of life.

“My administration has focused on doing the right thing the right way. Protecting Hawai‘i from the impacts of invasive species will require agencies and industries to work together to build a better biosecurity system,” said Gov. David Ige. “Our actions now will result in a more robust agriculture industry, protect our natural resources, our economy, and our unique way of life here in Hawai‘i.”

biosecurity-planaBetter biosecurity is Hawai‘i’s path forward from this invasive species crossroad. The term biosecurity encompasses the full set of policies and actions that minimize risk from invasive species. This means pre-border actions to prevent invasive species from reaching our shores, border inspections and quarantine to detect new arrivals, and post-border control for species that have made their way into the state.

biosecurity-planbThe State’s first line of defense against invasive species has always been the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, but in the 21st century we need partners,” said Scott Enright, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.  “The threat of potential invasive species goes beyond HDOA’s mandate and this new interagency biosecurity plan will help the State focus on important priorities that will protect the environment and agriculture in Hawaii now and in the future.”

biosecurity-planc

The State of Hawai‘i developed its first comprehensive, interagency approach to biosecurity through the 2017-2027 Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan. The intended scope of this plan is to address all three biosecurity areas (pre-border, border, and post-border) and to strategically coordinate actions across a wide range of agencies and partners. The planning process, led by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), has joined the efforts of industry representatives and state, federal, and county agencies to identify policy, process, and infrastructure needs over the next decade. The plan is currently in draft form and awaits public review and input at a series of meetings across the state in early October.

biosecurity-plandIn Hawai‘i the concept of laulima is followed: many hands working together. The Hawai‘i Interagency Biosecurity Plan is a blueprint for conservationists, farmers, researchers, and private citizens to join together and help protect this special place. While the draft plan includes over 150 coordinated actions that would substantially enhance our biosecurity system, 10 key areas highlighted for improvements are listed below. :

1)      Off-shore compliance: Agreements with other jurisdictions to adopt pre-shipping inspection and control policies.

2)      E-manifest and intelligence gathering: Using new technology to track what’s coming in, what’s high-risk, and what’s low-risk (for faster release).

3)      Inspection facilities: Well-lit, secure areas for efficient inspections, refrigerated areas for produce.

4)      Inspection of non-agricultural items: HDOA has authority and staff to inspect high-risk non-agricultural items.

5)      Emergency response capacity: Interagency plans, protocols, and funding in place for timely and effective response to new pest incursions.

6)      Better coordination and participation by industries: Expand HISC into an Invasive Species Authority to provide industry a seat at the table and coordinate complex interagency efforts.

7)      Renewed focus on human health: A fully restored DOH Vector Control Branch to detect vectors of dengue, Zika, rat lungworm, and more.

8)      Enhanced control of established pests: Adequate field staff at HDOA, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Department of Health (DOH), and the University of Hawai‘i (UH) to control established invasive species and improved laboratories to support effective biocontrol.

9)      Minimize interisland spread: Increased staff and inspections for interisland goods, support to local farms and nurseries via certification programs and import substitution programs.

10)   Engaged and supportive community: Targeted outreach to different stakeholder groups to increase awareness and engagement in biosecurity programs.

Hawaii Hunter Education Program Offering New Online Option for O’ahu

Beginning in October 2016 on O‘ahu, the Department of Land and Natural Resources Hunter Education Program will expand certification options for the public by offering a Hybrid Hunter Education Course which can be partially completed online. This Hybrid course will consist of two parts: (1) online course and (2) a one-day In-person conclusion course with final exam.

DLNR Hunter Card

Completion of both the online course and in-person conclusion course are mandatory for certification under the Hybrid course. Students must complete and pass the online course prior to attending the in-person conclusion course. Completion of the online course alone will not result in certification.

The online course is available at: https://www.hunter-ed.com. Interested students should visit this site, select “Hawai‘i” as their state and follow the subsequent prompts in order to complete the online course.  The course covers nine units including high definition videos, cutaways, interactive simulations and animations. There are unit quizzes and an online exam.

After passing the online exam, students will be charged $19.50 by the online course provider in order to access their voucher to attend the In-person conclusion course. Students will be required to present this voucher to Instructors when signing in for the In-person conclusion course. Students without vouchers will not be admitted into the class.

The In-person conclusion course will be approximately four hours. This session will cover a review of the online course and additional units specific to Hawai‘i. Students will end this course with a final written exam.

In-person conclusion courses will be offered on O‘ahu with limited availability in October and December 2016 and expanded availability in the state in 2017. Therefore, students interested in the Hybrid course are encouraged plan ahead and register for the in-person conclusion course well in advance as spaces will fill up.

The minimum age to take Hybrid and traditional Hunter Education Classes is 10 years of age. Vouchers through https://www.hunter-ed.com/hawaii/ for the in-person conclusion course are valid for one year from the date of issue. Students who pass the online course but fail the in-person conclusion course will not be required to recomplete the online course; however, they will be required to reregister for and recomplete the in-person conclusion course.

This Hybrid course is offered in addition to the regularly scheduled traditional 12-hour classroom course. Students interested in obtaining their Hunter Education Certification may choose from either option. Course schedules for both Hybrid and traditional courses are available at: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/huntered/classes/. Call: 808-587-0200 to register for courses.

For more information on the Hybrid course, please contact the Hunter Education Program at: 1-866-563-4868 or by email at: hawaiihuntered@hawaii.gov.