Family of victim sues over death

LIHUE — Nearly two months after a Kapaa driver was sentenced to probation and restitution in the accidental death of a motorcyclist, the matter is back in 5th Circuit Court.

Charlotte Smith Kaui, 83, is being sued by the family of Thomas Gregory Newsom, 52, of Kapaa, who died after his motorcycle struck Smith Kaui’s car as it turned from Kuhio Highway on to Lanikai Street in Wailua on July 20, 2013.

The complaint was filed on Oct. 28 by the Honolulu firm of Trecker & Fritz. The plaintiffs include Francis O’Brien, as a personal representative of Newsome’s Estate, along with his surviving children, Delon Newsome of Ohio and Denae and Devosha Newsome of Georgia.

The complaint alleges negligence and is seeking punitive damages for medical and funeral expenses, along with physical and emotion duress caused by Newsome’s death.

The accident occurred about 5 p.m., when Newsome was traveling north on Kuhio Highway with his silver 2005 Yamaha XVS650 motorcycle. Smith Kaui was driving south in a black 2011 Lincoln Continental Town Car when she turned left toward Lanikai Street directly in front of Newsome’s right-of-way and caused his death.

The civil suit charges Smith Kaui with driving at an unsafe speed, failing to stop, inattentive driving, and driving in a negligent manner by violating a right-of-way and causing a collision.

During the sentencing hearing for the criminal case on Sept. 11, Chief Judge Randal Valenciano said that Smith Kaui was not speeding or driving in a hazardous manner and was not intoxicated. She was attempting to make a left turn at a busy intersection with another car attempting to make a left turn, he added, and in the confusion turned into the path of the oncoming motorcyclist.

Valenciano granted her motion for deferred acceptance of the no-contest plea, which allows Smith Kaui to motion to remove the charges from her criminal record upon completion of probation.

The terms include a mandatory driver’s safety course, various evaluations and $8,087.61 in restitution to cover Newsome’s funeral expenses.

Isaac Keahi Smith, the Honolulu attorney who represented Smith Kaui in the criminal matter, could not be reached for comment Monday. At the criminal sentencing, Keahi Smith stated that a followup investigation showed that Smith Kaui was not speeding as the police report initially indicated.

Susan Marshall, the Lihue attorney on the case for Trecker & Fritz, was not able to respond to questions concerning the case.

Smith Kaui has been part of management at Smith’s Tropical Paradise for over 60 years.


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