Hawaii Seal Hawaii Revised Statutes

Chapter 520

Landowners' Liability




520-1 Purpose

520-2 Definitions

520-3 Duty of care of owner limited

520-4 Liability of owner limited

520-5 Exceptions to limitations

520-6 Persons using land

520-7 Rights

520-8 Rules and regulations

Cross References

Access to control invasive species, see chapter 520A.

Emergency use of private real property, see chapter 135.

Exemption for providing emergency access, shelter, and subsistence during disasters, see §663-10.7.

Recreational activity liability, see §663-1.54.

Law Journals and Reviews

The Hawai‘i Recreational Use Statute: A Practical Guide to Landowner Liability. 22 UH L. Rev. 237.

Case Notes

Hawaii recreational use statute immunized federal government from liability for negligence for injuries sustained at urban swimming pool. 945 F.2d 1134.

U.S. government immune from negligence liability under Hawaii recreational use statute (HRUS) for personal injuries suffered by plaintiff while plaintiff was using a military recreational facility, where (1) because the government did not impose a “charge” or “fee” for plaintiff to enter upon and use the recreational facility, plaintiff’s use of the government’s property was “without charge” under the statute; (2) the fact that dock on which plaintiff was injured was closed to everyone except the instructors and students of the sailing course on day of plaintiff’s injury did not strip the government of its HRUS immunity; (3) plaintiff argued that legislative history indicated that HRUS was not intended to immunize businesses from liability to their business invitees, there was no need to resort to statute’s legislative history in search of an exception that was clearly not included; and (4) although plaintiff may have had professional as well as personal reasons for taking the sailing course, plaintiff’s alleged “professional” motivation did not convert plaintiff into a “nonrecreational” user; plaintiff’s subjective intent was, in the situation, immaterial. 181 F.3d 1064.

United States’ motion for summary judgment denied, where United States had not demonstrated that Hawaii recreational use statute exempted it from negligence liability to plaintiff stemming from plaintiff’s accident on Pearl Harbor bike path while traveling to work by bicycle; plaintiff raised a material issue of fact as to whether plaintiff was a recreational user of the bike path. 180 F. Supp. 2d 1132.

Finding that rights to accreted lands could be acquired by adverse public use under implied dedication theory is inconsistent with legislative intent to encourage landowners to make their property available to public for recreational uses. 73 H. 297, 832 P.2d 724.

Plaintiffs, by averring in their affidavits that they were on landowner’s land for a commercial purpose at the time plaintiff sustained personal injury, generated a genuine issue of material fact whether they were on the land for a commercial purpose, in which case this chapter would not immunize the landowner from liability, or whether they were present for an exclusively recreational purpose, in which case this chapter would be available to landowner as a defense to plaintiff’s negligence claim. 93 H. 477, 6 P.3d 349.

This chapter was not intended to have created a universal defense available to a commercial establishment such as landowner hotel, which has opened its land to the public for commercial gain, against any and all liability for personal injury merely because there is a “recreational” component to the establishment’s operation. 93 H. 477, 6 P.3d 349.

Where plaintiff’s injury occurred in an ocean area owned by the State, this chapter did not apply to the State as it does not apply to lands owned by the government; also, where the county was not a possessor of a fee interest nor a tenant, lessee, occupant, or a person in control of Queen’s Bath, where the injury occurred, this chapter was not applicable to the county as an adjacent landowner. 110 H. 189, 130 P.3d 1054 (2006).

Trial court correctly concluded that scuba diving instructor’s status on hotel property fell as a matter of law within the ambit of this chapter as a recreational user, inasmuch as instructor was engaged in “an activity in pursuit of the use of the property for recreational purposes” and, thus, that hotel was immunized from instructor’s negligence claims under this chapter. 112 H. 472, 146 P.3d 1049 (2006).