- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - The Hawaii Supreme Court convened for the first time on record in West Hawaii, using a high school gym as a courtroom to hear arguments in a case over maintaining county records.

Justices met Tuesday at Kealakehe High School to hear arguments in a lawsuit alleging Hawaii County failed to maintain accurate property records, West Hawaii Today reported (http://ow.ly/wld4o).

The case was brought by Geoffrey Molfino, who bought and sold a 49-acre parcel, sued over wanting records about the number of lots permitted on the land. He appealed lower court rulings that said the county isn’t obligated to maintain records.

Molfino’s attorney, Peter Esser, argued the county should take “reasonable care” to maintain records. “There is record of evidence to support negligence, and therefore summary judgment was inappropriate,” he said.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Laureen Martin argued that creating a legal duty to preserve records opens the county to liability. She maintained the county has no legal obligation to preserve any records, despite provisions to do so in the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act.

“What about public health and safety,” asked Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, citing records that show a house is situated in a flood plain. “There’s no duty (to preserve records) in that?”

Esser said the negligence lawsuit is based on the county not investigating when county officials discovered the record was incomplete.

It’s not certain when the court will issue a ruling.

___

Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com