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Judge Allows Legal Trickery--Helps Union Boss Evict Pig Farmer
SA: … Days before Christmas, a Waianae Coast pig farmer — after 1-1/2 years of battling a new property owner (Plasterers Union 630 Boss Iriarte) who (illegally) cut the piggery’s water line and threatened eviction on the false claim his lease was invalid — was ordered by a judge to vacate the Maili farm where he had been raising 450 pigs for 22 years.
On Wednesday, just days before New Year’s Eve, a lawyer for the property owner notified the farmer, Matthew Reyes, he has seven days to vacate the property where he had 66 remaining hogs, including three breeding boars — each weighing more than 650 pounds. Property owner Peter Iriarte also shut off the water to the piggery and chained the water meter.
(Because Iriarte is a political insider) Waianae District Court Judge Thomas Haia on Dec. 20 approved a motion made during a trial in small claims court by Terrence Lee, a lawyer representing Iriarte, who serves as head of a plasterers and cement masons union. The move apparently prompted the judge’s ruling to vacate the property….
Iriarte had been ordered to return water to the piggery after admitting that he had the pig farm’s 1-1/2-inch waterlines cut, but he replaced the line with smaller, 1/2-inch pipes. Reyes said the lack of water, along with water pressure challenges tied to the smaller pipes, resulted in extreme difficulty in cleaning pens and providing enough drinking water for the pigs. More than 100 of 450 pigs have died from dehydration, while others had to be sold off, Reyes said.
With mediation proving unsuccessful, at the subsequent trial in small claims court, Lee essentially changed the complaint to allege Reyes should be evicted for not paying rent — and dropped the initial complaint pertaining to lease validity. In court, Lee said Iriarte sent a letter Dec. 6 to Reyes providing a deadline of Dec. 7 to pay back rent, otherwise the lease would be terminated.
The judge asked Reyes if he wanted to resolve the matter by paying the back rent or whether he wanted to continue the trial.
Reyes later said he was then about to write a $5,600 check, and indicated he would try to resolve notices of violation issued on the property. Reyes then asked about restoration of water pressure that Iriarte had cut. In response, the judge said, “How much pressure is not in controversy right now. What’s in front of me is nonpayment of lease. … As it stands now, I can make that finding. If I make that finding, you’re out because you didn’t make that rent payment.”
Haia explained to Reyes, who did not have a lawyer, he had granted a motion submitted by Lee to drop the lease validity issue from the case’s court records.
“So all Mr. Lee had to prove today was the lease existed, which he agreed it did, the amount that was due and that it hadn’t been paid,” the judge said. “Your acknowledgment today that you are willing to pay the money is proof that you didn’t pay the rent,” Haia said.
Reyes told the judge that he had not paid the rent because shortly after Iriarte bought the property, Iriarte sent a letter instructing Reyes not to send any more rent until their dispute was resolved. Further, Reyes said, the property owner returned two 2021 rent checks, for October and November, and had not cashed other rent checks. Reyes submitted the letter and returned checks to the court as a trial exhibit, which the judge took a few minutes to review….
BEST COMMENT: This is a classic example of why clueless district court judges should not be hearing and ruling on landlord tenant disputes. Waianae District Court Judge Thomas Haia had already ruled that Reyes's lease was valid thru July of 2024.
Subsequently, the despicable owner/landlord then drops the invalid lease complaint and motions the judge to rule solely on unpaid rent. But Reyes properly presented empirical evidence of returned and uncashed timely rent payments that he had made to the landlord. He was fully in compliance with HRS 521 and the judge should have been aware of the Hawaii Supreme Court's published ruling on certiorari to the ICA, dated 12/4/2015 SCWC-13-0000107, where this nefarious scam by a landlord and the attorney was exposed and the Supreme Court ruled the eviction unlawful.
In short, the ruling said what is obvious: that a landlord cannot simply return or not cash rent payments and then bring eviction proceedings for unpaid rent.
The court wrongfully evicted Reyes. Further, Reyes has cause for retaliatory eviction under 521-74 and an action for Iriarte's violation of "HRS 521-74.5: Recovery of possession limited".
>>The landlord shall not recover or take possession of a dwelling unit by the willful interruption or diminution of running water, hot water, or electric, gas, or other essential service to the tenant contrary to the rental agreement or section 521-42, except in case of abandonment or surrender.<<
The diminution of water to Reyes was admitted by Iriarte and why Haia did not previously immediately recognize this violation is inexplicable and unforgivable. Reyes should get himself a good attorney who will get the eviction reversed and then hold Iriarte liable for damages….
(Question: Which attorney is not afraid of political retaliation?)
DHHL/Anderson/Masons Union Local 630:
read … Farmer is evicted in dispute over Maili piggery
Fireworks can annoy, yes, but time to chill out
SA: … It’s the time of the year when editorial columns and letters appear in the paper and disgruntled residents get furious with our “fireworks” culture and write in. And, the comments are pretty much the same every year. We’ve tried changing. BUT laws don’t work, enforcement is nil and ratting on neighbors might cause retaliation — so nothing.
Those people who like this type of entertainment feel the need to continue traditional values and just have fun doing it. So, they are willing to spend big bucks to satisfy this inner urging. Yes, there are public displays but it’s not the same as your own.
So, people, accept it one more year and don’t get all in a tizzy about it. I’m going to grab my glass of champagne around 11:30 p.m., go sit on my lanai facing Manoa and watch my neighbors set off beautiful illegal aerials from their driveways and condo roofs nearby….
SA Editorial: Stop the illegal booms
read … Fireworks can annoy, yes, but time to chill out
NDAA Military Spending Bill Will Make Jones Act Exemptions Harder to Get
REASON: … The Jones Act has a process that allows for individual ships to receive exemptions in cases of disasters or threats to the national defense. Multiple presidential administrations have very rarely pursued these exemptions, and when they do, representatives of the industry insist they're not needed.
In 2020's NDAA, an amendment to the Jones Act was squeezed in to require that there be "an immediate adverse effect on military operations" in order to grant an emergency waiver. Otherwise, officials need to prove that Jones Act–compliant ships aren't enough to respond to a crisis before offering waivers, as the Biden administration did in the aftermath of Fiona.
Now, the Jones Act is being amended again with even more restrictions. Under these new rules, pushed by the industry itself, there will be a mandatory 48-hour delay before a waiver can be approved and published. And a ship that is already laden with cargo cannot seek out a waiver at all. So in the aforementioned Puerto Rico example, a foreign ship that is already full of fuel and available cannot respond to an emergency situation if it has already made one stop at a U.S. port….
read … This Military Spending Bill Will Make Puerto Rico's Next Hurricane Disaster Even Worse
Hawaii Is Still Waiting for Big-Spending Japanese Tourists to Return
WSJ: … Tourism overall in the state is back up, but lucrative visits from Japan are down 90% ….
read … Hawaii Is Still Waiting for Big-Spending Japanese Tourists to Return
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