Author: Timothy Irons

The Hawai`i Supreme Court recently held that laches is a defense to any civil action, legal or equitable, and can bar a legal claim for damages, even if brought within the applicable statute of limitations period.[1]  This was the unhappy position in which the Royal Aloha condominium association found itself.  See Ass’n of Apt. Owners of Royal Aloha v. Certified Mgmt., 139 Haw. 229, 386 P.3d 866 (Dec. 2016). In order to allocate electricity costs, Royal Aloha installed sub-meters to monitor and bill unit owners based on individual usage.  Between 1998 and 2010, Royal Aloha (through its managing agents) under-billed certain commercial unit owners.  In 2012, after realizing the error, Royal Aloha sued its managing agents and the commercial tenants for recovery of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Even though the under-billing continued to occur less than 6 years prior to Royal Aloha’s suit (the applicable limitations period), the Circuit Court ruled against Royal Aloha on all claims based on the doctrine of laches, which was affirmed by the Hawai`i Supreme Court. Continue Reading