Kauai Groups Go to Court to Block the Superferry

Jeff Mikulina
Jeff Mikulina

LIHUE, Kauai (KHNL) -- Following Maui's lead, Kauai environmental groups take their protest from Nawiliwili harbor to the courtroom. In a hearing Thursday morning, the groups requested a temporary restraining order to keep the Hawaii Superferry from operating on Kauai.

A Kauai judge heard testimony from both sides. A ruling on the TRO is expected by Friday afternoon. With this case and the Maui hearing next week, it's now become a game of wait and see.

The Hawaii Superferry sits at Honolulu Harbor; its commercial fate tied up in Hawaii courtrooms. Thursday morning, lawyers representing Richard Hoeppner, founder of "People for the Preservation of Kauai" and a group called "1,000 Friends of Kauai" argued for a temporary restraining order, to prevent the ship from operating on the Garden Isle until an environmental assessment is completed.

"What we saw on Kauai was a lot of pent up concern over the Superferry's operations," said Jeff Mikulina, the director for the Hawaii Sierra Club. "I think most of those people would just like to see the Superferry done right."

The Superferry's lawyers also argued their side.

"I believe our attorneys presented a very well-thought out case, or a motion, presenting the reasons why the judge should not order a TRO," said John Garibaldi, Hawaii Superferry's CEO.

The Kauai groups' lawyer says some groundwork has been laid out by the Maui case.

"Well, certainly we hope that the judge would be considering the precedent that's already been set on Maui," said Greg Meyers, an attorney representing the Kauai groups. "There are some other factors that the court needs to consider since we're starting the case now."

Besides these court cases, Superferry officials are also considering feedback from the coast guard and the community.

"So, we've been waiting the other players that are involved here to really figure out when the right time is, and at that time, then we'll look at resuming service when everything is in place," said Garibaldi.

Until few more pieces fall into place, the Superferry remains docked and in legal limbo.

Once again, Superferry officials have no immediate plans to resume service to either Maui or Kauai. The Kauai judge is expected to rule on the TRO motion by Friday afternoon, and the hearing on Maui begins Monday.