Rail lawsuit opens in Federal Court

Published: Nov. 30, 2011 at 10:23 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2011 at 2:50 AM HST
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Gary Takeuchi
Gary Takeuchi
former governor Ben Cayetano
former governor Ben Cayetano
Plaintiffs' attorney Nicholas Yost
Plaintiffs' attorney Nicholas Yost

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a court room on the fourth floor of the federal courthouse, 9th Circuit Senior Judge Wallace Tashima said he wants the rail case resolved in a timely manner.

Plaintiffs argued the city bypassed exploring alternatives before deciding on a steel-on-steel system. City attorneys said they should have said that during public hearings.

"None of these particular plaintiffs participated at all. They didn't raise certain claims that they're now complaining about in a lawsuit," deputy corporation counsel Gary Takeuchi said.

The city's lawyers claim the parties to the lawsuit, which include former governor Ben Cayetano, have no standing to sue.

Cayetano countered that he's been vocal about rail for a long time.

"I've written op-eds. The city has responded to my op-eds," he said. "I've said things at press conferences. The mayor and all those guys get a little bent of out of shape and they make statements. What more notice do you need?"

Another point of contention is the administrative record. Plaintiffs' attorney Nicholas Yost said the city is stalling by not releasing it. Yost hinted that it could prove his clients' challenge is warranted if their arguments were echoed by others who did testify.

"Back in September they said there were 500,000 documents, which are the universe from which the administrative record would be selected, that they had isolated them, and they were ready. So why haven't they come up with it?" he said.

The judge warned both parties that the legal fight could be a long one and could get longer if significant rail work begins and the plaintiffs file for an injunction to stop construction.

"We're just going to do our best to try to get the project done on time, under budget, and deal with these legal issues as quickly as we can," Takeuchi said.

The next court date is set for January.

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