KEALAKEKUA — A 3rd Circuit Court judge determined a Kailua-Kona man was responsible for more than $800,000 in medical bills after striking a runner on Alii Drive while driving drunk.
Nicholas Martin, 70, was sentenced in September to five years prison for driving under the influence twice within 24 hours and striking pedestrian Robert LaMarca in December 2017. Third Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino found Martin guilty of DUI and first-degree negligent injury despite his no contest plea. He is currently being held at Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu.
The Hawaii Paroling Authority set a minimum term sentence of four years. Martin will be eligible to seek parole on Sept. 7, 2022.
On Friday, a restitution hearing was held to determine the amount of LaMarca’s medical expenses for which Martin was responsible. LaMarca took the stand and identified 27 documents that indicated bills of treatment since the 2017 crash in which he suffered a traumatic brain injury and other critical injuries that left him in a coma for a month at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.
Bills include being medivaced to Queen’s, rehabilitation at Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific as well as two other visits to Oahu and treatment at Kona Community Hospital. LaMarca also identified bills from Massachusetts where he visited a neurologist and was hospitalized for surgery.
The largest was from Queen’s, in excess of $450,000.
Defense attorney Brian De Lima objected to each invoice stating the documents are hearsay and no demand of payment has been made to LaMarca.
In review of the documents, some appear to show an insurance payment, a payment in full or have a stamp stating “no patient liability.” De Lima also questioned LaMarca on whether he’s made payment toward his care.
“All bills went directly to my attorney,” LaMarca stated. “There was a period where I was receiving bills directly. That was during a time when I didn’t have an attorney.”
A health claim form was also sent to Liberty Mutual, which happens to be Martin’s insurance.
After LaMarca stepped down, De Lima said the purpose of the restitution hearing was to determine what LaMarca is responsible for and what is actually owed to him.
“If demand hasn’t been made, then demand shouldn’t be made to Mr. Martin,” De Lima said. “There’s no showing demand of payment from Mr. LaMarca.”
After the arguments and testimony from LaMarca, Fujino ruled Martin pay restitution in full, around $809,000.
Outside the courtroom, De Lima agreed restitution was going to be high, but not what was granted by the court.
“A lot of those bills say ‘no patient liability’ and the judge still ordered full liability,” he said. “We just think the amount should’ve been more accurate.”
De Lima plans to appeal the ruling.
Sitting outside the courthouse, LaMarca said he felt the judge was fair, adding he didn’t know he was going to be as involved as he was.
“I’m just glad this stage is over and this is the last time I’m in a courthouse for a long time,” he said.
De Lima hopes to reduce Martin’s sentence to probation because of health concerns that have come up since his client’s incarceration. At Martin’s sentencing in September, De Lima told the court Martin suffered from neuropathic pain, which was part of his drinking problem.
Fujino granted an order for an independent medical exam of Martin. The doctor’s findings were to be reviewed during Friday’s hearing. However, a doctor was not found in time and De Lima asked to continue the hearing until the exam could be complete.
Fujino denied the request without prejudice, which allows De Lima to make the motion for a medical exam again.