Citizen Suits

Allows any person acting as a private attorney general to
commence a civil action against any person who is alleged to be
in violation of historic preservation, zoning, land use,
environmental, coastal zone management, and related laws,
ordinances, rules, orders, variances, and permits.

THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           487
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding
 2 a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as
 3 follows:
 4                             "CHAPTER
 5                           CITIZEN SUITS
 6       -1 Citizen suits.  (a)  In addition to citizen suits
 7 brought under sections 128D-21 and 342B-56, any person acting as
 8 a private attorney general may commence a civil action against
 9 any person, including partnerships, corporations, associations,
10 public or private organizations, the State, any county, or any
11 agency, who is alleged to be in violation of chapters 6E, 46,
12 171, 174C, 180C, 183, 183C, 184, 195, 195D, 205, 205A, 266, 342B,
13 342D, 342F, 342H, 342J, and 342N, and ordinances or rules adopted
14 pursuant thereto, including any order, variance, or permit
15 issued.
16      (b)  The circuit court shall have jurisdiction to:
17      (1)  Enforce the requirements of the applicable law,
18           ordinance, or rules; and
19      (2)  Apply any appropriate civil penalties.

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 1      (c)  Except for actions necessary to prevent imminent
 2 endangerment to health or the environment, no action under this
 3 chapter may be commenced:
 4      (1)  Prior to sixty days after the plaintiff has given
 5           notice of the violation to:
 6           (A)  The officer or employee responsible for
 7                administering the applicable; and
 8           (B)  Any alleged violator of the applicable law,
 9                ordinance, rule, order, permit, or variance;
10      (2)  If the plaintiff does not make reasonable efforts to
11           arrange a meeting with the defendant and a
12           representative of the agency responsible for
13           administering the applicable chapter within sixty days
14           after this notice has been served to discuss the
15           circumstances that gave rise to the notice and possible
16           settlement of the issues;
17      (3)  If the agency has commenced and is diligently
18           prosecuting a civil or administrative action to require
19           compliance with the applicable law, ordinance, rule,
20           order, permit, or variance, but in any such action any
21           person may intervene as a matter of right; or
22      (4)  Two years after the claim accrues except where a
23           violation is part of a continuing violation or pattern

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 1           of violations.
 2      (d)  Any action under this section shall be brought only in
 3 the judicial circuit in which the violation occurs or where the
 4 harm is alleged to occur.
 5      (e)  In any action, the officer or employee responsible for
 6 administering the applicable law, if not a party, may intervene
 7 as a matter of right at any time in the proceeding.
 8      (f)  The court, in issuing any final order in any action
 9 brought pursuant to this section, may award costs of litigation
10 (including reasonable attorney's and expert witness fees) to any
11 prevailing or substantially prevailing plaintiff, whenever the
12 court determines such an award to be appropriate.  The award
13 shall be limited to the extent that there shall be a reasonable
14 correlation between the importance of the case and the fees
15 awarded.  In any action against a state agency, fees shall not
16 exceed a total of $50,000.
17      (g)  Nothing in this section shall restrict any right which
18 any person may have under any constitutional provision, statute,
19 or common law to seek enforcement of any violation of any land
20 use or environmental law, ordinance, rule, permit, variance,
21 approval, or order.  Nothing in this section shall restrict any
22 right which any person may have under common law to seek damages
23 against another party whose actions have been determined to be

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                                     S.B. NO.           487

 1 frivolous.
 2      (h)  Penalties received shall be deposited into the general
 3 fund of the State or appropriate county, as the case may be,
 4 unless the applicable statute directs that civil penalties be
 5 deposited elsewhere.  The court shall have discretion to order
 6 that in lieu of civil penalties, the defendant shall provide
 7 funding for beneficial mitigation, restoration, management,
 8 education, or protection projects which enhance public health or
 9 the environment."
10      SECTION 2.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
12                              INTRODUCED BY:______________________