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State v. Kailua Auto Wreckers, Inc.

ELR Citation: 10 ELR 20951
Nos. No. 6598, 615 P.2d 730/62 Haw. 222, (Haw., 07/10/1980)

The court holds that corporate officers are personally liable for the corporation's violations of Hawaii's air pollution regulations. Civil penalties were imposed on appellants for open burning of automobiles. Although recognizing that discriminatory law enforcement is a defense in a criminal proceeding, the court finds that appellants failed to carry their burden of proving that the state had enforced the open burning regulation in a discriminatory manner. Finding that the corporation had violated the state's air pollution regulations, the court also rules that corporate officers who perform or authorize performance of unlawful acts are individually liable for corporate penal law violations. Even officers who did not actively participate in the unlawful acts are nonetheless personally liable, particularly because (1) the regulation imposes strict liability upon persons who engage in unlawful open burning, and (2) the purpose of the regulation, to protect public health, imposes a duty to take reasonable care to discover and remedy and violation. Thus, the court affirms the assessment of civil penalties.

Counsel for Appellants
John Emory Parks
Pacific Trade Center, 190 S. King St., Honolulu HI 96813
(808) 524-2133

Counsel for Appellee
Lawrence K. Lau, Deputy Attorney General
P.O. Box 50183, Honolulu HI 96850
(808) 546-7170

Before RICHARDSON, C.J., OGATA and MENOR, JJ., and MARUMOTO and KOBAYASHI, Retired Justices, assigned by reason of vacancies.