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Honolulu City Council Approves $1 Million Dollar Settlement – Woman Struck by City Garbage Truck

Attorney Michael Cruise of Honolulu personal injury law firm Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner recently obtained a $1 million settlement for the estate and surviving sons of 70-year-old Barbara N. Kato, a Honolulu woman who was struck and killed by a garbage truck while crossing the street at a crosswalk.

north-kingAccording to court documents, the accident occurred in the early morning hours of February 27, 2014 as she crossed North King Street at Gulick Avenue. The driver of the truck, Denise A. Kekumu, had been attempting to turn left onto Gulick when she struck the pedestrian. Ms. Kato died three hours later.

Kekumu had a history of eight prior avoidable accidents while driving a garbage truck, including hitting walls and parked cars. Because a driver’s violations are expunged after two years under a union contract, Kekumu’s driving skills never got the attention they needed. According to Cruise, the city “end[s] up with at least some drivers that have pretty bad driving histories and they’re not getting retrained … it’s a public safety issue.”

The Honolulu City Council unanimously approved the settlement on November 2, 2016, calling the accident a “clear case of negligence.” Mr. Cruise, the attorney for Ms. Kato’s estate and her sons, Keith and Kevin, said that he hopes that the city will take action to prevent another accident like this from occurring in the future. He pointed out that this accident was the third within 12 months involving a pedestrian struck by a city refuse truck.

Kekumu has been disciplined as a result of the incident.

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