Crash settlement to cost state $1.3M

HONOLULU — Lawyers for the state have agreed to pay $1.3 million in connection with a car crash on Hawaii Island almost four years ago that left a 23-year-old man paralyzed.

Allan Baron Imada was visiting the island with his family and was a passenger in his uncle’s car along with his grandmother and two cousins when a woman driving in the opposite direction on Hawaii Belt Road crossed the center line and collided with the vehicle.

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Imada sued the state of Hawaii’s Department of Transportation a few months after the accident near the South Kona town of Captain Cook. The highway is owned and maintained by the state, and the state was aware of the dangerous condition of the road and failed to fix and maintain it, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit sought compensation for past, present and future medical expenses, and potentially lost earnings that will occur due to his lifelong injuries, according to Imada’s complaint.

According to testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the state failed to replace rumble strips on the highway that would have slowed the driver who crossed the center line.

Imada was treated at Kona Communtiy Hospital but transported to The Queen’s Medical Center when he was deemed stable, then transferred to Craig Hospital in Colorado.

He received physical therapy in Mexico, Cuba and now in Germany, where he attends Stuttgart University, but has ongoing medical expenses.

Imada’s parents, Alfredo Baron Ocampo and Maria Imada De Ito, filed a separate lawsuit two years later for emotional distress, medical expenses and loss of profit from their engineering firm in Mexico.

De Ito was key to soliciting clients for the firm, but has now chosen to be an in-home health care assistant for her son, according to testimony from the Attorney General’s Office.

“He said that because his wife is no longer involved in the business, the business is winding down,” according to the testimony. Both parents were at the scene of the accident, riding in the car ahead of their son.

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Lawyers for the state estimated the cases could result in judgments of $8 million to more than $15 million if they proceeded to trial, but the state negotiated the $1.3 million amount with the assistance of a mediator.

The settlement is included in Senate Bill 2740, which received preliminary approval from the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 1, and now advances to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

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