Last week, the Honolulu City Council unanimously approved a $1 million
settlement to benefit the surviving family of a woman who was struck and
killed by a city refuse truck in Kalihi in February 2014. Seventy-year-old
Barbara N. Kato succumbed to her injuries three hours after being hit
by the truck while crossing at a crosswalk at North King Street and Gulick
Avenue early in the morning. She had been on her way to work at the time
of the accident.
The driver of the truck had a history of eight prior avoidable collisions
while operating a garbage truck. This fatality was the third within a
12-month period in which a pedestrian was struck by a city garbage truck.
Councilman Ron Menor, chairman of the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs
Committee, said that Kato’s death was a clear case of negligence
and that the driver was inattentive. The driver has been disciplined as
a result of this incident.
Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner attorney
Michael Cruise, an attorney for Kato’s estate and for her sons, Kevin and Keith,
says that he hopes that the city will respond by taking further steps
to prevent this type of accident from happening again in the future.
“Hitting walls, parked cars, things like that, all red flags that
she needed some attention (given) to her driving skills, and she never
got it,” Cruise said. Because there is a union contract allowing
a driver’s violations to be expunged after two years, the result
is what Cruise calls a “public safety issue.” “They
end up with at least some drivers that have pretty bad driving histories
and they’re not getting retrained and that issue is not being addressed.”
To get in touch with a Honolulu
wrongful death attorney at Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner, please call (808) 518-2120.