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Lawyer Says Raw Sewage Spill Infected Client

Woman Recovering From Infections From 5 Bacterium

POSTED: 4:22 pm HST April 11, 2006

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HONOLULU —The lawyer for a Waikiki waitress said he believes raw sewage from a massive spill caused an infection that’s landed her in the hospital for over a week.

Lisa Kennedy, her boyfriend and two friends from the mainland went surfing two weeks ago at Waikiki Beach.

Two weeks ago on Tuesday, the city had already spent four days sending millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the Ala Wai Canal that empties into the ocean near the beach because of a sewage line break. However, the city had not yet posted warning signs in front of the Hilton where Kennedy, 40, went surfing.

She cut her backside on the reef, causing a 2-inch-by-4-inch wound. Her lawyer said she immediately got out of the water and went to a medical clinic at the Hilton, which patched her up, and then sent her by taxi to the Queen’s Medical Center’s emergency room.

She received five stitches, but her lawyer said the wound was infected with five types of bacteria, including e-coli.

“Her infectious disease doctor, one of the very best in the state, has concluded it’s highly probable that she obtained these bugs from the raw sewage that was in the water,” attorney Rick Fried said.

At the state’s direction, the city did not put up warning signs in the area she was surfing until the day after she was cut there. Fried said the state and city should have posted signs there as soon as the dumping began four days earlier.

Fried has not sued the city or the state yet.

“With a spill of this magnitude, signs should have been up as the dumping started, because it was foreseeable that there would be raw sewage in the area where she contracted the bug,” he said.

Fried said that Kennedy is on morphine for pain and is getting antibiotics by IV while her wound is drained every day. It’s unclear how long she’ll be in the hospital.

Even though the huge sewage spill had been heavily covered in the news media for five days, Fried claimed that neither Kennedy nor her boyfriend knew about it when they went into the water.

“As somebody said, ‘You must have been living in a cave.’ Well, I guess she was in a cave, but even if she had been out in the broad daylight, there were no sign up, no warning in the papers to stay out of where she went,” Fried said.

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