Beating victim awarded $9.4M

LIHUE — Two North Shore men were ordered to pay $9.4 million for a beating that left their victim physically disabled.

Judge Randal Valenciano ruled that Jerrid Ham Young of Hanalei and Trenton K. Camat of Kilauea were liable for damages after they assaulted Christopher Roy Owens at Anini Beach, an attack that left the then 22-year-old with traumatic brain injury as well as with severe physical, emotional and mental disorders for the rest of his life.

Because the assailants were under 18 at the time of the Aug. 20, 2008 attack, the judge held their parents liable as well — Kristine and Shaindlin Ham Young and Lilith and Lennox Camat.

“I think that’s the message that should be out there, you can be held liable,” said Jimmy Owens, Christopher Owens’s father, on the summary judgment order that came down Tuesday. “If you got these type of violent kids, you should be aware of it, you can be held liable.”

The Princeville man said he doesn’t expect to see much of the settlement, however. But the order offered a piece of closure for the family in the case that’s been in court for several years.

“It’s been tough going,” he said. “But I didn’t want it to die, like it’s no big deal for these people.”

The order was based in part on the loss of past and future wages for Christopher Owens. A graduate of the now defunct Kula High School on the North Shore, Owens was a student at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo at the time of the attack. It started with a strike to the back of Owens’s head by Young, and kicks to his head thereafter, court records state.

It happened at a beach party in front of other partygoers, and Owens was later medevaced to Queens Medical Center on Oahu.

In depositions they gave the court, the two assailants admitted beating Owens and both wrote letters of apology to Owens.

“I don’t think he intended it, but he did intend to fight him and, yeah, hurt him,” Ham Young, according to court files, told lawyers about Camat not intending to cause permanent damage, but to harm Owens physically that night. “It was only us. It was just us.”

Camat could not be reached for comment. A message left at the number for the Ham Young home in Hanalei was not returned Wednesday. They did not have legal representation during the court case.

Because the assailants were minors at the time, the criminal court case on the matter was sealed.

“(Owens) was basically beat on,” Dr. Thomas Capelli testified prior to the order. He “found himself in the ICU with brain bleeds and nearly died in the ICU because of it all.”

Daniel Hempey, the Lihue attorney who represented Christopher Owens in the civil matter, said he was pleased with the judge’s decision. The judge ruled earlier that the parents could be liable in the matter. Hempey said he couldn’t speculate on how much of the money the family would be able to collect.

“I’m happy to see some measure of justice finally done,” he said. “This case also serves as a reminder to both teenagers and their parents that the parents are financially liable for what their minor children do.”

Jimmy Owens said Christopher’s condition has plateaued, and the father will continue looking after his son. Christopher Owens suffers from short-term memory loss and is partially paralyzed in his right leg and arm. Last year, he earned his driver’s license. He takes part in physical therapy, has conversations and likes to paddleboard.

“At least it’s over,” Jimmy Owens said. “It’s closure.”

Tom Hasslinger, managing editor, can be reached at 245-0427 or thasslinger@thegardenisland.com.

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