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Posted: Monday, January 5th, 2004 5:49 AM HST

Supreme Court orders new trial in wrongful death suit

By Associated Press

(Honolulu-AP) -- The state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in a wrongful-death civil lawsuit filed by the family of a 20-year-old Hilo man electrocuted in 1994 while working a construction job in North Kona.

In its ruling, the court unanimously overturned a 1998 ruling by former Big Island Circuit Judge Riki May Amano.

The judge dismissed the lawsuit against a Big Island contractor and a jury verdict later that year that favored the two project developers.

The lawsuits stem from the death of Charles Rapoza Junior, whose father had filed two lawsuits alleging that his son died because of unsafe working conditions.

Among other things, the justices ruled that Amano should not have dismissed one of the defendants from the lawsuit and that she abused her discretion by denying the plaintiffs' motion for a mistrial.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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