Goo v. ArakawaAnnotate this Case
Homeowners filed a complaint against the County and certain Developers, alleging that the Mayor had unlawfully exempted certain projects from a height restriction law (“Law”). On December 31, 2008, the circuit court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Homeowners and entered an order for declaratory and injunctive relief. The circuit court subsequently denied Homeowners’ request for attorneys’ fees under the private attorney general doctrine. After the parties appealed, the Maui County Council passed a bill making the Mayor’s previously illegal conduct legal. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) (1) vacated the circuit court’s December 31, 2008 order because the Law issue was frustrated based on mootness, and (2) concluded that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying attorneys’ fees. The Supreme Court (1) vacated that portion of the ICA’s judgment that vacated the circuit court’s judgments and order, holding (i) when a case is mooted while on appeal, the appellate could should remand the case to the trial court for a consideration of the vacatur issue, and (ii) the ICA did not properly analyze the vacatur issue; and (2) affirmed that portion of the ICA’s judgment that affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Homeowners’ request for attorneys’ fees. Remanded.