Categorized | Elections, Featured, News

Ex-elections workers sue Yagong, Kawauchi

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Attorney Ted Hong

Attorney Ted Hong

County elections administrator Patricia Nakamoto and former senior elections clerk Shyla Ayau have filed separate defamation and negligence lawsuits against County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, County Council chairman Dominic Yagong in their individual and official capacities and the private investigator, Corporate Specialized Intelligence and Investigations, hired by Yagong. The county also is named because Kawauchi and Yagong may have been acting in their official capacity as county officers.

The legal actions were announced Thursday in Hilo by Ted Hong, attorney for the workers.

Four workers were fired earlier this year when Kawauchi and Yagong said they found alcohol and evidence of a private business being operated out of a county elections warehouse.

A third employee, Elton Nakagawa, has an union arbitration scheduled for October 2012. The fourth, Glenn Shikuma, died last month.

Hong said he will sek more than $500,000 each in damages for Nakamoto, 25-year county employee who in 2006 was named ‘Supervisor of the Year,’ and for Ayau, a seven-year employee who now works in the Kauai clerk’s office.

The County Council previously rejected a proposal for $10,000 in damages for each employee, plus $10,000 in legal fees.

In response to the announcement of the lawsuits, Kawauchi issued the following statement:

“On Sept. 6, 2012, the Office of the County Clerk received media inquires concerning lawsuits filed on Sept. 5, 2012 by Ted H.S. Hong, Esq. The Office of the County Clerk will not provide comment concerning these lawsuits at this time.”

Hong’s statement in its entirety:

Wednesday afternoon, Elections Administrator, Patricia Nakamoto, and former Senior Elections Clerk, Shyla Ayau, filed separate defamation and negligence lawsuits.

They have sued Hawaii County Clerk (Jamae Kawauchi), Hawaii County Council Chair (Dominic Yagong) in their individual and official capacities as well as the private investigator that Yagong hired.

The County of Hawaii is also named because at the time of the decision, Kawauchi and Yagong may have been acting in their official capacity as County officers.

The lawsuit alleges: (1) Defamation as a matter of law; (2) Defamation as a result of negligence; (3) Invasion of Privacy and putting Nakamoto and Ayau in a false light; (4) Negligent investigation; and (5) Negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit also alleges that the repeated publication and leaking of false information to the media injured their reputations and standing in the community. Each lawsuit specifically points to confidential information that had been intentionally and deliberately disclosed by Kawauchi and Yagong to support their decision to terminate Nakamoto and Ayau.

The complaint also refers to specific incidents where information that was required by law to remain confidential was also leaked to the media.

Of the original four County Elections Workers who were fired by Kawauchi and Yagong, three have been reinstated and given their jobs back. The fourth employee had an union arbitration scheduled for October 2012.

Hong said Kawauchi, Yagong and the “Gang of Four” in the current Council leadership intentionally ignored this problem, rejected every opportunity to resolve this problem, and left Nakamoto and Ayau no choice but to file this lawsuit.

Hong said it is tragic that pride and politics was more important to Yagong, and council members like Brenda Ford, which will now result in a huge and unnecessary expense to county taxpayers.

Ayau Complaint Exhibit 001 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 002 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 003 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 004 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 005 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 006 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 007 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 008 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 009 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 010 Ayau Complaint Exhibit 011 Nakamoto Complaint Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 001 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 002 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 003 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 004 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 005 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 007 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 008 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 009 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 010 Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 011

(Editor’s Note: The documents provided by Ted Hong did not include a Nakamoto Complaint Exhibit 006.)

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